Does this remind you of voter intimidation methods?

Does this remind you of voter intimidation methods?

Medicaid is about to start requiring that recipients definitively prove their citizenship by presenting their passports, or birth certificates plus other documents. From the New York Times (Medicaid Hurdle for Immigrants May Hurt Others):

The requirement is meant to stop the “theft of Medicaid benefits by illegal aliens,” in the words of Representative Charlie Norwood, Republican of Georgia, a principal author of the provision, which was signed into law by President Bush on Feb. 8.

In enforcing the new requirement, federal and state officials must take account of passions stirred by weeks of national debate over immigration policy. State officials worry that many blacks, American Indians and other poor people will be unable to come up with the documents needed to prove citizenship. In addition, hospital executives said they were concerned that the law could increase their costs, by reducing the number of patients with insurance.

The law is mean-spirited and counter-productive. It will be expensive to administer and is as likely to increase as to decrease medical costs as current Medicaid recipients lose access to preventive care and rely even more on emergency rooms. The law discriminates against the vulnerable:

In Arizona, the governor’s health policy adviser, Anne M. Winter, said the federal requirement would “reduce or delay enrollment for eligible individuals, mostly U.S. citizens.” In many cases, Ms. Winter said, “Native Americans — the first Americans — do not have the documents” required to show citizenship. In addition, she said, older Medicaid recipients with Alzheimer’s disease or other mental impairments may not understand the requirement and may be unable to retrieve the documents they need.

Personally I’m in favor of allowing illegal immigrants to have access to Medicaid. The Immigration and Naturalization Service should be responsible for keeping illegals out. If INS doesn’t do it’s job, it shouldn’t be up to Medicaid officials to mete out punishments.

April 17, 2006

One thought on “Does this remind you of voter intimidation methods?”

  1. I agree with you. From a public health perspective, it is counterproductive to deny access to healthcare to large portion of the population. You only fan the flames of communicable and chronic disease and shift the burden of care to centers that cannot afford it. In short, it is stupid policy.

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