Proof-of-Citizenship Law To Begin
A new law that will require Medicaid beneficiaries and applicants to provide proof of citizenship in order to receive benefits will take effect on Saturday, the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, the proof-of-citizenship law -- which includes a hierarchy of acceptable documents including birth certificates and passports -- will affect more than 50 million U.S. residents.
New applicants will be affected immediately and will be denied benefits until they provide acceptable documentation. Current beneficiaries typically will have 45 to 90 days to supply the documents at the time of their first annual re-enrollment, according to the Post.
The law seeks to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving benefits. However, the Post reports that critics say several million people who are citizens might be affected because they will be unable to produce the required documentation. According to the Post, most likely to be affected could be mentally ill, mentally disabled or homeless U.S. residents, along with elderly people, particularly black people born in the segregated South.
A class-action lawsuit filed this week alleges that the law is unconstitutional and should not be implemented.
Cindy Mann, director of the Center for Children and Family at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute, projected that at least three million U.S. residents could lose coverage (Levine/Otto, Washington Post, 6/30).
Senate Republican leaders on Thursday objected to a unanimous consent request to pass a bill (S 3590), sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), that would delay implementation of the proof-of-citizenship law until January 31, 2007, CQ HealthBeat reports. A Republican Senate aide said the measure was blocked because members had not yet reviewed the bill, and the Congressional Budget Office has not yet scored the legislation.
A "technical corrections" bill has been drafted but not yet introduced to amend the Medicaid documentation changes, according to CQ HealthBeat. Action on that measure is expected to begin after the July 4th recess (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 6/29).