Proof-of-Citizenship Law Still Inadequate, Advocates Say
Consumer and patient advocates on Friday said they "welcomed" the new exemptions to Medicaid proof-of-citizenship rules announced last week but said more changes are needed to ensure millions of other beneficiaries do not lose coverage, CQ HealthBeat reports (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 7/7).
Under the law, which took effect July 1, individuals seeking care through Medicaid must show proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate, passport or other form of identification. The law's intent is to prevent undocumented immigrants from claiming to be citizens in order to receive benefits provided only to legal residents.
CMS on Thursday announced that it will exempt people enrolled in the Supplemental Security Income or Medicare programs and other groups from the regulations. An estimated eight million Medicaid beneficiaries will be exempt (California Healthline, 7/7).
However, Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said, "The new requirements still are likely to force significant numbers of U.S. citizens who are fully eligible for Medicaid -- primarily poor children and parents -- to go without health care because they are waiting for paperwork from a government bureaucracy or are unable to get the paperwork."
Ron Pollack executive director of Families USA, said, "The administration's decision to exempt seniors and people with severe disabilities from the Medicaid documentation is most welcome. However, it still leaves more than 40 million low-income people at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage and joining the ranks of the uninsured."
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Joe Barton (R-Tex.) said, "These are reasonable requirements in the responsible program of a caring nation. They reflect a people who are generous and compassionate but not gullible, and they will help us rescue a system which is so costly that it threatens to bankrupt state governments" (CQ HealthBeat, 7/7).
APM's "Marketplace" on Friday reported on the exemptions from the Medicaid proof-of-citizenship law. The segment includes comments from John Bouman, lead attorney for a lawsuit in which advocacy groups are seeking to stop implementation of the new law on grounds that it is unconstitutional; CMS Administrator Mark McClellan; and Pollack (Palmer, "Marketplace," APM, 7/7). The complete transcript and audio in RealPlayer of the segment are available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.