The budget conference agreement that passed the Senate and the House in slightly different forms in December, and that the House of Representatives will vote on again on February 1, contains a provision that would require all citizens applying or reapplying for Medicaid to produce a passport or birth certificate to prove they are U.S. citizens. There would be no exceptions for any Medicaid applicants or beneficiaries, not even individuals with severe physical or mental impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease.
This new requirement, which a recent study by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services shows to be unnecessary, would almost certainly create significant enrollment barriers for millions of low-income citizens who meet all Medicaid eligibility requirements. It also would increase Medicaid administrative costs. (For a discussion of these issues, see Leighton Ku and Donna Cohen Ross, “New Medicaid Requirement Is Unnecessary and Could Impede Citizens’ Coverage and Policy Priorities,” revised January 4, 2006.)