Monday, March 12, 2007

Nathan Deal: Defending you from the sick beggar child.

From Political Insider, the New York Times:

A new federal rule intended to keep illegal immigrants from receiving Medicaid has instead shut out tens of thousands of United States citizens who have had difficulty complying with requirements to show birth certificates and other documents proving their citizenship, state officials say.

Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia have all reported declines in enrollment and traced them to the new federal requirement, which comes just as state officials around the country are striving to expand coverage through Medicaid and other means.

Under a 2006 federal law, the Deficit Reduction Act, most people who say they are United States citizens and want Medicaid must provide “satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship,” which could include a passport or the combination of a birth certificate and a driver’s license.

Some state officials say the Bush administration went beyond the law in some ways, for example, by requiring people to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing agency.

. . . In Florida, the number of children on Medicaid declined by 63,000, to 1.2 million, from July 2006 to January of this year.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of people who don’t qualify for Medicaid because they cannot produce proof of citizenship,” said Albert A. Zimmerman, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families. “Nearly all of these people are American citizens.”

Nathan Deal, being the Congresscritter responsible for the change, wants to keep it:

Chris Riley, the chief of staff for Mr. Deal, said the new requirement did encounter “some bumps in the road” last year. But, he said, Mr. Deal believes that the requirement “has saved taxpayers money.” The congressman “will vigorously fight repeal of that provision” and will, in fact, try to extend it to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Mr. Riley said.

As much as I appreciate a fightin' Congresscritter, I prefer it when said critter fights against this, rather than for it:

Dr. Martin C. Michaels, a pediatrician in Dalton, Ga., who has been monitoring effects of the federal rule, said: “Georgia now has 100,000 newly uninsured U.S. citizen children of low-income families. Many of these children have missed immunizations and preventive health visits. And they have been admitted to hospitals and intensive care units for conditions that normally would have been treated in a doctor’s office.”

Dr. Michaels, who is president of the Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that some children with asthma had lost their Medicaid coverage and could not afford the medications they had been taking daily to prevent wheezing. “Some of these children had asthma attacks and had to be admitted to hospitals,” he said.

Normally, I would direct all my ire at Nathan Deal, but in this case, I'll have to split it between him and Sonny Perdue, who is responsible for a similar penny-wise, pound-foolish change at the state level.