Federal Proof Of Citizenship Requirements Denying Access To Medicaid

Since the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005 became law, requiring states to obtain documentation proving citizenship of Medicaid enrollees, many eligible residents have lost coverage or have had it delayed.

That’s according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) detailing problems found with states implementing the new law. The GAO surveyed 50 states and received complete responses from 44, making up approximately 71 percent of  national enrollment. Before the DRA, Medicaid applicants could attest to citizenship though signature under penalty of perjury.

According to the report, the law is leading to declines in Medicaid coverage for eligible citizens, and all states reported administrative and financial burdens to implement the new requirement.

The House Committee on Government Reform also found that costs of implementing the measure far outweighed the savings in identifying undocumented individuals who might have used Medicaid.

Colorado took 1.5 million in federal money to implement the program and found no undocumented immigrants trying to enroll in Medicaid.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.