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The Nation

Medicaid roll dip not attributed to illegal immigrants

July 25, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Medicaid rolls declined in many states after Congress imposed new documentation requirements, but most of the drop-off appears to be among people eligible for coverage, not illegal immigrants.

A law that took effect July 1 requires states to obtain evidence of citizenship and nationality when determining whether people are eligible for Medicaid.

The Government Accountability Office surveyed states on the effect of the new rules. Twenty-two of 44 states reported enrollment declines, the GAO said Tuesday. And most of those states said the drop was the result of delays in coverage or loss of coverage for eligible citizens.

Twelve states said the requirement had no effect on enrollment, and 10 reported that they didn't know.

Medicaid is the state and federal program that provides health coverage to the poor.

In responding to the report, the federal agency that oversees Medicaid raised concerns that states did not provide data to document their conclusions.

The GAO acknowledged that its review basically represents the state Medicaid perspective.

They "stated the requirement has resulted in enrollment declines and has posed administrative burdens to states and individuals," the report said. "Further, our survey results indicate that the effects states experienced in the first year may continue at least to some extent in the future."

Beginning in 1986, Congress required that Medicaid beneficiaries attest that they are citizens or legal immigrants eligible to participate. But lawmakers took the proof of eligibility a step further last year by requiring documentary evidence.

The new requirement is projected to save the state and federal governments about $90 million this year.

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