Monday, June 12, 2006

Millions of Americans will Face Difficulties Getting Medicaid Starting July 1

Guidelines announced yesterday carry new requirements likely to impede Medicaid coverage for millions of the nation's poor and disabled.  Effective July 1, proof of citizenship will be required rather than mere declarations that had been the standard in most states

The regulations, which were authorized by changes in February to the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, will affect about 50 million Medicaid recipients nationwide and nearly 700,000 in Virginia.

"Self-attestation of citizenship and identity is no longer an acceptable practice," Dennis G. Smith, director of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services wrote state Medicaid directors in a 14-page letter spelling out the changes.

Failure to implement the changes could force withdrawal of federal Medicaid funds. The guidelines also carry requirements for extensive cross-checking of Social Security and other records.

Sharply criticized by immigrant advocates for months as a means of achieving tens of millions of dollars in savings by blocking Medicaid payments to illegal immigrants, the regulations set up complex methods of identification and citizenship documentation using birth certificates and other identification papers.

Read more in the Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch.

A CMS Fact Sheet and other official information about the new proof-of-citizenship requirement is available on the CMS website.

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