CHICAGO - July 7 -
Today in Chicago, Federal District Court Judge Ronald Guzman in Chicago established an expedited schedule for hearing the class action lawsuit challenging the new Medicaid citizenship documentation law. The law went into effect on July 1. According to the judge’s schedule, factual discovery proceedings may begin this Monday, July 10.
The Medicaid documentation law was part of the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) that was enacted in February 2006. It requires Medicaid beneficiaries, and those applying to the program, to provide passports, birth certificates, and other documentation proving their U.S. citizenship. Failure to do so disqualifies low-income beneficiaries and applicants from Medicaid coverage. Prior to the DRA, citizenship documentation was generally required only of people whose citizenship status was in doubt. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) exempted Medicare and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries from the Medicaid documentation requirement.
Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers, is helping plaintiffs’ attorneys with the lawsuit and is coordinating efforts to repeal the citizenship verification law. The following is the statement of Ron Pollack, Families USA’s Executive Director, about yesterday’s HHS regulations and today’s court proceedings:
“The Administration’s decision to exempt seniors and people with severe disabilities from the Medicaid citizenship documentation requirement is most welcomed. However, it still leaves more than 40 million low-income people at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage and joining the ranks of the uninsured.
“This law was the product of political pandering on the immigration issue. Tragically and ironically, however, it could cause millions of U.S. citizens who desperately need health care, and who can’t produce the required citizenship documents, to lose their health care coverage.
“It is critically important that remedial action occurs quickly, either by the Congress repealing the law or the Federal District Court enjoining it, so that Medicaid beneficiaries don’t lose their health lifeline.”