[JURIST] Medicaid [official website; JURIST news archive] assistance will be available to infants under the age of one year born in the US to illegal immigrants only if they have citizenship documentation, according to Bush administration officials quoted in the New York Times Friday. The new policy requires illegal immigrant parents to file an application with Medicaid and provide citizenship proof, such as a birth certificate or a hospital record. The administration claims that the new policy is mandated by the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) [text, PDF], which established strict requirements for proof of citizenship to prevent Medicaid fraud. Many health care professionals and immigrant rights activists have denounced the policy, asserting that it will impede children from receiving care at a crucial stage of development because illegal parents will be reluctant to apply for government documentation for fear of deportation. Under the old policy, which continued to be followed following the legislation's passage earlier this year, any child born in the US and satisfying the low-income requirements became entitled to health insurance from birth until one year of age.
The availability of Medicaid benefits to illegal immigrants has lately polarized the health care and political communities, forcing the balance of preventing fraud and high costs with providing care to low-income applicants. In July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services exempted most elderly and disabled applicants [JURIST report] who previously applied for benefits from the proof of citizenship requirement under the DRA. The New York Times has more.