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Medicaid Enrollment Drops with New Citizenship Requirements

By Kelley Weiss

Kansas City, MO – A new federal citizenship requirement aimed at curbing Medicaid fraud by illegal immigrants went in to effect his summer. But, in Kansas the state is facing unintended consequences from the new policy that's impacting thousands of beneficiaries' health coverage. KCUR's Kelley Weiss reports.

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Since June state officials say they've seen an almost 10 percent drop in Kansans enrolling for Medicaid. Andy Allison, deputy director of the Kansas Health Policy Authority, says people now have to prove citizenship and identity with a passport or birth certificate and driver's license to get Medicaid health coverage. Allison says processing applications is overloading the state system under the new federal rules and creating a back log of thousands of applications. This, consequently, he says, is leaving eligible citizens waiting and without coverage.

Andy Allison: "There are at least some unintended consequences that have had an impact on those who are eligible, who are citizens and who have been either denied or who are not yet able to enroll in the program and yet should be there."

Allison says of the some 20,000 people not enrolled in the program right now only 3,000 of them could not provide the required documents to prove citizenship. He says if the state does not comply with the new rules Kansas could lose millions of dollars in federal aid that helps pay for Medicaid services.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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