Monday, June 19, 2006

Children of undocumented workers should get sick and die.

Yet another consequence of our fucked immigration policy and our miserly Republican government:

Some Hispanic children eligible for Medicaid benefits aren't getting the medical care they need because of a change in the way the state verifies their parents' income, say health care providers and advocates for Hispanics.

The change is creating a kind of Catch-22 situation for children born to noncitizen parents in the United States. Born here, the children are citizens and unlike their parents are eligible for benefits such as Medicaid, a federal-state program which provides health care for some low-income people.

But tougher rules on how parents must prove they are actually poor are knocking eligible children off the Medicaid roles, said Sister Margarita Martin of Oasis Catolico, a mission in Athens' Pinewoods Mobile Home Park off U.S. Highway 29 North. The park has a large Hispanic population.

The new rule began Jan. 1, but only now are the effects showing up, as families go through a mandatory renewal process for Medicaid eligibility, said Sister Margarita.

The new rule requires applicants for the Medicaid program for families to show a document such as a W-2-form, pay stubs or income tax returns to be eligible. A letter from an employer stating income is also acceptable.

The move was to reduce "fraud and abuse," Gov. Sonny Perdue said when he ordered the change. Before Perdue's decree, parents were simply required to declare what their income was on an application form. About 2 percent or 3 percent of those applications had false statements about income or other eligibility criteria, according to the state.

But the unintended consequence has been children being denied Medical care for which they are entitled because many parents can't provide the required documents, said Sister Margarita.

The purpose of Medicaid is to provide health care to the poor. That purpose shouldn't be compromised by wrongheaded efforts to curb "fraud and abuse." How much money does this rule save? How many can be covered as a result of the savings? And how many are harmed as a result? I somehow doubt that the former is greater than the latter.