The Medicaid Conundrum: Loophole Could Mean Citizens Uninsured While Immigrants Are Covered

According to reports this week from the Associated Press, governors who reject health insurance for the poor under new healthcare reform laws will have exposed a peculiar loophole in the system-some US citizens would be forced to go without Medicaid coverage, while their immigrant counterparts would remain covered.

According to reports this week from the Associated Press, governors who reject health insurance for the poor under new healthcare reform laws will have exposed a peculiar loophole in the system—some US citizens would be forced to go without Medicaid coverage, while their immigrant counterparts would remain covered.

The reason for the loophole, exposed by Arizona government officials when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer opted to accept Medicaid expansion, is because last year’s Supreme Court decision changed the Medicaid provisions of President Obama’s healthcare reform law, which expanded federal-state program for low-income and disabled individuals. Specifically, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the only Americans eligible for government subsidies to purchase private coverage are those individuals who live above the poverty line. However, legal immigrants are subject to a 5-year waiting period before becoming eligible for Medicaid coverage. But, the ACA created a new option whereby any legal immigrant can purchase health coverage via the new health insurance exchanges and qualify for the subsidies. This type of coverage would more than likely cost more than Medicaid, but if legal immigrants were still within the waiting period, such coverage would be a better option than having no coverage at all.

Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said that “by rejecting the expansion, you are essentially rewarding the immigrant population at the expense of full citizens.” For more information on how the oversight caused this situation, please visit the Washington Post’s Fed Page.

Around the Web

States that turn down Medicaid would leave citizens uninsured while immigrants get covered [Washington Post]

Medicaid Expansion Raises Possibilities, Problems For States [Kaiser Health News]