Archive for Monday, June 23, 2008

Medicaid mess

State lawmakers have yet another valid complaint about the cost of unfunded federal mandates.

June 23, 2008


Ah, another example of the ironic promise, "We're the government, and we're here to help."

It was revealed last week that a new federal policy designed to keep illegal aliens from getting Medicaid benefits cost the state of Kansas $1 million, disrupted Medicaid benefits for 20,000 legal recipients and discovered one - yes, one - case of a person who was ineligible for Medicaid because of his citizenship status.

The new rules require everyone applying for Medicaid to provide proof of their citizenship. Many people had trouble obtaining verification documents from other states, and the increased time it took to process Medicaid applicants created an administrative nightmare. The state was forced to hire more employees to handle the paperwork, at a cost of about $1 million.

Even with the additional help, however, about 20,000 eligible Kansans lost their Medicaid benefits. Only about half of them have been re-enrolled.

Kansas Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt colorfully described the new regulations as being "akin to trying to push a wet noodle up a hill with your nose." It's hard to fully evaluate that metaphor without giving it a trial run, but it seems to aptly reflect the stupidity of the federal Medicaid mandate.

It's all too easy - and common - for federal lawmakers to order states to complete some task without fully considering the practical impact of the mandate. Although it makes sense to keep illegal immigrants from collecting Medicaid, at least in Kansas, the process for enforcing that standard clearly was more trouble than it was worth.


Ceallach 9 years, 5 months ago

So only one out of the 10,000 who successfully reapplied was illegal, chances are pretty good that among the other 10,000 there were many people who were milking the system without meeting eligibility requirements. Who know, maybe one or two of that number were also illegal and smart enough to skip reapplying.

notajayhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

I have to agree with janeyb on this one. Some people apparently aren't too good at math (including the LJW's editors and the head of the Medicaid program who first made the spurious claim that 10,000 'eligible' recipients lost their benefits).The fact is that 10,000 people couldn't document that they are American citizens, and they had no business getting benefits in the first place. Again, it sounds as if the $1 million dollar expense saved the state beaucoup bucks.

janeyb 9 years, 5 months ago

It appears to me it was 10000 + 1 in addition to those who will never get illegally into the system. Now with this kink fixed, as the auditors have pointed out, they can move on to the other kinks. It isn't stupidity to expect citizens to be able to produce something that says they were born here. You need a birth certificate to start kindergarten--although I realize that is ignored for some children. Children must have social security numbers for their parents to claim them as dependents on taxes and that requires birth certificates. My parent's just got new copies of birth certificates and a copy of their marriage license to start the retirement process-- it took less than a week. Of course they went on line and did it themselves, they didn't need an interpreter and someone to hold their hand through the process. Another big plus is that they actually are citizens.

notajayhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

Wow.The LJW doesn't usually resort to outright lies in its editorials."disrupted Medicaid benefits for 20,000 legal recipients"The original story stated that half the 20,000 had their Medicaid restored - maybe people aren't too familiar with Medicaid, but it is typically granted backdated to the day of application (within limits), so if it took a month or so to get the documents, any bills incurred during that time would still have been covered.As for the other half, apparently they were unable to provide the required documentation. That being the case, I would like the LJW editors, the Medicaid chief who reported those numbers, or any of the other bleeding hearts to prove that these people were 'legal' or even 'eligible' recipients.The Kansas Family Medical Assistance and SRS manuals are available online (I linked to them in a post to the original story). They detail a very long list of acceptable documentation that's acceptable, it doesn't have to be a birth certificate. There is no reason any legally eligible applicant for Medicaid shouldn't be able to satisfy the requirement. And the manuals clearly state that the burden is on the applicant household to provide the documentation and prove eligibility, it's not up to the state to find ways to give money away. By definition, as these people could not prove citizenship, they were not legally eligible recipients, and the real problem is that 10,000 of them had been receiving benefits without meeting the requirements. Sounds like the state saved a boatload of money by spending another $1 million to start verifying eligibility like they should have been all along.

janeyb 9 years, 5 months ago

"Auditors found that the number of calls coming into the state center had decreased by the start of fiscal year 2008 last July 1 to levels experienced before the federal requirements took effect."This is the last line from other Kansas newspapers reporting the exact same story. LJW keeps omitting this line. It cost Kansas to initiate the changes, but it has leveled off now and will save Kansas money in the future. Why do they keep trying to mislead us regarding this story?

shlomoek 9 years, 5 months ago

I don't see the point of this editorial. I wouldn't normally agree with commentors who resort to needless liberal bashing but it this case I tend to agree that providing documentation of your legal status isn't too much to ask for. How about an editorial about socialized medicine. I am a citizen and I pay taxes and I want something back in the form of free hospital services and doctors visits.

Melissa Sigler 9 years, 5 months ago

What an awesome waste of time, energy, and money, when there are a million other kinks in the system that need to be ironed out. I hope that ONE illegal recipient feels very special.

sfjayhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

if you think this failed policy is bad, you should see how much the failed policy in Iraq is costing us.

gonewiththewind 9 years, 5 months ago

Seriously, at Brandon Woods, we could use some help filling out our the medicine forms. Thank you.

bd 9 years, 5 months ago

Annother ruse to try and put the problem elsewhere!Illegal aliens!What a mess they are causing for "EVERYONE"BOOT THEM OUT BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!

notajayhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

Well, as it appears most of the posters on this topic don't think this 'failed' policy is bad (or even that it is a 'failed' policy), I guess comparing the two would not exactly be what you had in mind.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 5 months ago

oh, gee, our strategy is succeeding in iraq, and besides the "one" how many illegals didn't file at all because of the new procedure? as to why the ljworld would edit this story this way, I've caught them before, they're very pro-illegal immigration. they oppose our doing sensible measures to secure our borders! that has more to do with this story's presentation than the particular policy discussed.

Deb Trybom 9 years, 5 months ago

Oh, lets just give everyone Medicaid, they don't pay hardly anything so it doesn't cost that much money. It might even give the hospitals a break since they will be writting off less charity.

james bush 9 years, 5 months ago

Turn the whole program over to KU's School of Social(ism) Welfare!

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