New Medicaid Rules to Block Undocumented Also Impacts US Citizens

Today the Associated Press reported that a 2006 law that was supposed to prevent undocumented immigrants from getting Medicaid, has meant a decrease in US citizens applying. The AP reports

The Government Accountability Office surveyed states on the impact of the new rules. Twenty-two of 44 states reported enrollment declines, the GAO said Tuesday, and most of those states said the decline was due to delays in coverage or a loss of coverage for eligible citizens.

Meanwhile, 12 states said the requirement had no effect on enrollment. Ten others 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 perspective of state Medicaid officials.

“(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.

There have been a lot of things written about Black/Brown relations, especially as it pertains to why African-Americans should support guest worker provisions or some kind of more progressive immigration policy. Usually these conversations fall back on some loosely defined “solidarity”—because African-Americans fought for de-segregation in the civil rights movement, that makes us somehow able to understand the need for a more humane immigration policy.

Personally I think Kwame Ture (then Stokely Carmichael) and Charles V. Hamilton had it right in in their book, Black Power. Black people should join coalitions where they have some concrete self-interest. And if we buy that as truth, then perhaps immigration rights groups interested in working with Black organizations ought to consider specific types of legislation like this, that also impacts Black people. In this case, people in need of Medicaid.

Last week I published a story on POZ.com about issues of treatment access for people with HIV in the US. I write:

Positive Americans who don’t have insurance apply for drug assistance through Medicaid, Medicare or the Ryan White Care Act, which underwrites the states’ AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP). ADAP is the payer of last resort—it will only provide prescription drug assistance where none exists or bridge the gaps in coverage where Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance are lacking. To qualify for any of these programs, one has to meet certain income or “disease progression” requirements. Because federal and state governments share funding responsibility, these requirements vary widely from state to state.

Though I focus on ADAP in that story, I learned in researching it that Medicaid is the largest insurer of people with HIV in the US. If that’s the case, what is the impact of the new rules about documents impact the ability of people who are HIV+ to get access to treatment and care?

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