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David Baxter

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NMHA Calls for Delay on New Medicaid Documentation Law

Clarification Needed to Protect Millions with Mental Illness

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (June 29, 2006)?The National Mental Health Association joins Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) in calling for a delay on implementation of the documentation requirement, scheduled to take effect July 1, that requires Medicaid beneficiaries to provide specific, narrowly-defined documents proving American citizenship.

Federal guidance on what documents could qualify was issued less than three weeks before the July 1st effective date. Current Medicaid enrollees and applicants as well as the states charged with implementing this new law have not had nearly enough time to learn the specifics of these new federal policies. And, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not conducted the outreach campaign mandated by the new law to educate beneficiaries and applicants about the new requirement. Moreover, the federal guidelines issued by HHS earlier this month set some overly strict standards that are not required by the law.

Specifically, NMHA calls on Congress and HHS to work together to delay implementation until an extensive outreach and education campaign has been conducted and to make the following clarifications in law:

  • Medicare beneficiaries, recipients of Supplemental Security Income, and foster care children are exempt from the new Medicaid citizenship documentation requirement.
  • States can use electronic records immediately to verify citizenship and certified copies, and original documents are not required.
  • Individuals newly applying for Medicaid are presumed eligible as they collect the required documentation, as is the policy for legal immigrants.
  • Providers of rehabilitative, residential and other long-term services may to attest to the identity of a Medicaid recipient or applicant, if other forms of identity are not available.
NMHA will continue to work with members of Congress and HHS to lessen the harmful impact of this documentation requirement.

The National Mental Health Association is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. The NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research and service.
 

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