Citizenship Documentation Rules Hampering Children's Coverage

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<p>Federal regulations that took effect in 2006 require that individuals provide proof of citizenship when applying for or renewing Medicaid or other public health insurance coverage. In the new Commonwealth Fund report, <a href="/publications/fund-reports/2009/jan/getting-and-keeping-coverage--states-experience-with-citizenship-documentation-rules
">Getting and Keeping Coverage: States' Experience with Citizenship Documentation Rules,</a> Laura Summer examines the impact the documentation rules have had on the stability of public coverage for low-income families in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington.<br><br>According to Summer, a senior research scholar at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute, the new requirements have increased the complexity, administrative burden, and costs of enrollment and renewal in each state, making more it difficult for children and their families to get and keep health coverage. In some cases, states' ongoing efforts to simplify enrollment processes have been curtailed, as resources were diverted for citizenship documentation purposes.<br><br>The report also found that a state's approach to implementing the rules, as well as its organizational and technological capacity, can mitigate the impact. For example, Washington State established a "Citizenship Central Unit" to help current and potential program participants document their citizenship, and state officials conduct database searches to find birth certificates for applicants and enrollees. These actions not only promoted coverage stability but also saved time for workers in the field.</p>