State Delays Enforcement of Proof-of-Citizenship Law
California will not be able to implement until August a federal law that requires proof of citizenship to qualify for Medi-Cal benefits, Department of Health Services Director Sandra Shewry said last week, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The law took effect July 1.
Under the law, benefit applicants must provide proof of identity and a Social Security number, as well as documents that prove citizenship or legal residency, such as a birth certificate, passport or green card. The law is intended to prevent undocumented immigrants from illegally receiving Medicaid benefits.
As many as five million of Medi-Cal's 6.7 million beneficiaries will need to provide the documents when renewing eligibility for the program, according to Shewry. Some Medi-Cal beneficiaries will not be required to provide the documentation, such as women who are eligible for emergency care after delivering an infant (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 7/1).
Shewry said DHS will meet with county social service officials, consumers and health care providers over the next few weeks to discuss the new law. The state will send letters to counties later this month or next month outlining how to implement the law.
Health advocates oppose the law, saying low-income or mentally ill people, or those affected by natural disasters who do not have access to their documents will lose their benefits under the law (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 7/1).
Health care providers also have voiced concerns about how this will affect their operations.
Betsy Hite -- director of public affairs for the California Association of Health Facilities, which represents long-term care providers -- said CAHF hopes the new regulations will not require care providers to verify individuals' eligibility for Medi-Cal (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 7/1).
Shewry said the state is asking the federal government to allow it to use its electronic birth records, which contain nearly everyone born in California, to verify citizenship for Medi-Cal beneficiaries (Modesto Bee, 7/1).
KQED's "The California Report" on Friday reported on California health officials' reaction to implementation of the Medicaid law and how it will affect Medi-Cal beneficiaries. The segment includes comments from:
- Zara Marselian, director of La Maestra Family Clinic;
- Stan Rosenstein, director of Medi-Cal for DHS;
- John Stone, spokesperson for Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), who wrote the requirement; and
- Medi-Cal beneficiaries (Goldberg, "The California Report," KQED, 6/30).
In addition, KPBS' "KPBS News" on June 22 aired the segment (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 6/22). The complete transcript of the segment is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. 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.