Ind. Agency Requires U.S. Citizenship Proof to Receive Medicaid Benefits

June 22, 2006

A state agency is ready to begin requiring proof of U.S. citizenship before residents can receive Medicaid services.

The new step, which takes effect July 1, is mandated by the federal government under a budget-cutting bill passed by Congress last year and signed by President Bush in February.

But state Medicaid officials just learned of the change June 9, when the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent out several memos and letters on the new procedure.

The law requires proof of both identity and citizenship for those seeking to be covered by the state-federal program that provides health insurance coverage to more than 800,000 low-income people in Indiana.

Mitch Roob, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said Tuesday the agency needed to implement the new policy to protect millions of dollars in federal funds the state receives for the Medicaid program.

He said he knew some people would be upset by the change, but that others “think this is exactly what we ought to be doing, which is making sure American citizens get the health care they need and that those who are not entitled to the benefits don’t.”

FSSA said a U.S. birth certificate will be acceptable in conjunction with another document proving identity, such as a current driver’s license or state-issued photo ID card. For young children, a birth certificate must be provided and a parent must sign an affidavit vouching for the child’s identity.

Roob said those currently on the Medicaid program will be asked to provide the proper documentation during their next scheduled review, which occur every six months to three years depending on the services they receive.

Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., said he had heard many complaints about illegal immigrants getting government-paid health care.

“I support the principle that we ought to provide health care to citizens first,” Souder said. “We need to come up with a process of how we’re going to deal with all these people who are here illegally.”

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