Lead Counsel (and Director of Advocacy) John Bouman filed a suit in the Federal District Court in Chicago that challenges the validity of a new law that requires 50 million Medicaid recipients to prove their citizenship with passports, birth certificates, and other special documents or lose their public health coverage.
The new statute was supposedly inspired by a paranoia that illegal immigrants are leaching off Medicaid (a claim that has never been substantiated, and one that is never taken seriously). After all, one of the best ways for an illegal alien to be discovered by the federal government is by using the government’s health services. Furthermore, it has never been explained how an illegal immigrant could obtain the Medicaid entitlement in the first place.
The people who stand to be devastated by this statute are low-income Americans, particularly elderly African-Americans born in the South. As the Center’s press release puts it,
“The people at greatest risk of losing Medicaid coverage due to their inability to present passports, birth certificates, or other special documents (qualifying legal aliens present different documents) are seniors in nursing homes, people with mental or physical disabilities, disaster victims, and people not born in hospitals (sometimes due to racial discrimination, especially in the South) who never had birth certificates.”
One such person is Eddie Mae Binion, a named plaintiff in the suit. Ms. Binion, 72, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. She was given away as a small child and raised by a great grandmother in Mississippi. None of her relatives are alive.
“By at least one estimate, approximately 3 to 5 million low-income people are likely to be thrown out of Medicaid because of their inability to produce the required documents. An unknown number of people applying for Medicaid will have delays or not be able to get Medicaid at all because they cannot provide these documents. Due to their low-income status, these people are likely to join the growing ranks of the uninsured.”
Here is the Trib’s article on the controversy.
Let’s hope this suit works…