‘Failed’ federal policy costs $1M

State taxpayers fund new anti-illegal immigration checks

? Taxpayers spent upward of $1 million and thousands of eligible Kansans lost their health insurance because of federal anti-illegal immigration rules that ended up catching one illegal immigrant trying to apply for health coverage, officials said Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, said the situation showed the federal government had failed to enact common sense immigration policies.

“Instead of doing that, they’ve imposed a bunch of ancillary mandates on states, which are akin to trying to push a wet noodle up a hill with your nose,” Schmidt said. “State taxpayers are picking up the dollars and cents costs of a failed federal policy,” he said.

The criticism dealt with federal rules implemented July 1, 2006, that required Medicaid recipients to provide proof of citizenship.

This produced a huge logjam because of the increase in time it took to process current recipients and new applicants. For instance, many people had trouble obtaining needed documents, such as birth certificates, from other states.

“We lost 20,000 eligible Kansans as a result of the requirements,” said Kansas Medicaid director Andy Allison.

The state was forced to hire more personnel to handle telephone calls and applications, and to determine eligibility. That cost approximately $1 million, Allison said.

He said about half, or 10,000 of the 20,000 dropped, had been re-enrolled. Only one person has been determined to be ineligible because of citizenship status, he said.