Haven't heard this one in the news, huh?
According to federal legislation- that apparently slid through with nary a noise from most- new citizenship verification for those who rely on Medicaid to ensure health care coverage could mean that millions of elderly and young children (you know - nursing home residents, children in foster care - those that the administration could care less about) find themselves without the required documentation to receive their medicaid coverage by July 1st.
President Bush has signed into law a rule that would require those millions to produce birth certificates or passports to prove their United States citizenship. Yes, that means that an 85 year-old on a limited income struggling to maintain health care coverage who cannot find their birth certificate by July 1st will be permanently kicked off.
For low-income women who seek abortions in states that cover abortions through Medicaid (like Washington state) this will mean one more hurdle, no, barrier, to abortion access. The other day our clinic manager and I were discussing this near our waiting room. That day there happened to be a number of appointments with Latina clients. Looking out into the waiting room, our clinic manager remarked that none of these women would be able to have the abortions they have legally sought out.
Our front desk phone counselors help low-income women who have decided to have an abortion sign up for the medical coupons (medicaid) they need to pay for their abortions. Many of these women are Latina women, native Spanish speakers who do not have this kind of citizenship documentation readily available.
Thankfully, there are provisions written that, if passed, would "correct" this new damaging policy. The provisions include exempting all of those on Medicare as well as SSI (Social Security Insurance) recipients - sparing over 7 million elderly and disabled American citizens (including 1.5 million nursing home residents!); and foster care children. The provisions would also allow for birth records documentation to be in electronic form so that a state agency could e-mail the required documentation to a state DSHS agency making it less burdensome for the state agencies as well as the citizen applicants.
Lastly, the July 1st deadline is ridiculous. This administration is ready and willing to kick 50 million folks off of Medicaid in the next two weeks unless they can present this documentation asap. Do these folks use the U.S. mail? Have they ever dealt with a freakin' state agency before? Anyone who has ever been on welfare, unemployment, medicaid, medicare, applied for a driver's license or in any way dealt with a state agency before should know that it takes weeks, sometimes months, for applications to processed, forms to be sent, approved, recieved by or transmitted to the right person.
To think that it is in any way feasible for 50 million people to come up with either a birth certificate or a passport in the next two weeks is just absurd.
By the way, hold on to your hats, according to the New York Times: "The main proponents of the new requirements were two Republican House members from Georgia, Representatives Charlie Norwood and Nathan Deal."
So, as I am prone to do, write letters to the folks on two different committees: the Finance committee and Energy & Commerce committee - both of whom are the ones debating a "Pension Conference Report" that this technical corrections bill would be a part of.
If you're in Washington state, Rep. Jay Inslee is on the Energy and Commerce Comittee: http://www.house.gov/inslee/contact/index.html. Contact him!!!!
Check these out...
- my friend Alex' words
- New Moon Magazine
- A Year in Namibia
- Shakespeare's Sister
- Reproductive Health Reality Check
- Mothers Acting Up!
- Progress Now: Maternal Might Not Just a Celluloid Fantasy
- Amie on Seattle's KUBE radio station
- Taking Mother's Day Back to its Roots
- Women's enews article I'm quoted in!
- I Had An Abortion Stories
- Our Truths, Nuestras Verdades
- A Year in Namibia
- ► 2007 (20)
- ▼ 2006 (25)