New Medicaid Proof-Of-Citizenship Rule Affects Black Children Most, Data From Alabama Indicate
More than 2,000 black children in Alabama have lost Medicaid coverage as a result of federal rules requiring that beneficiaries and applicants provide documentation proving their U.S. citizenship, according to data from the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the Birmingham News reports (Chandler/Orndorff, Birmingham News, 5/27).
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2006 includes a provision requiring most people who seek Medicaid coverage to provide "satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship," such as a passport or the combination of a birth certificate and driver's license. Applicants are required to submit original documents or copies that have been certified by the issuing agency, some state officials say (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 5/12).
In Alabama, 527,400 residents were required to provide proof of citizenship; of those, 6% were Hispanic and 48% were black. A total of 5,000 residents lost coverage after failing to provide the required documentation, according to the data. Hispanics accounted for 2%, or 115 people, of those losing coverage, and blacks accounted for nearly 60% of those who lost coverage. Children were the largest group affected, with 2,081 black children and 1,213 white children losing coverage. It remains unclear why residents and documented immigrants were unable to prove their citizenship, the News reports.
"This is exactly what we were afraid of," Jim Carnes, a policy analyst with advocacy group Alabama Arise, said, adding, "By far it's disproportionately affecting children, and the largest single group is African-American children" (Birmingham News, 5/27).