US required citizenship proof for infant immigrant Medicaid recipients

On November 3, 2006, the Bush administration announced that it would require proof of US citizenship for Medicaid recipients born to illegal immigrants under one year of age. The administration cited the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) [PDF] in instituting the new policy, which mandates strict citizenship requirements in order to prevent Medicaid fraud. Proponents of DRA have argued that enforcement is a way to lower health care costs incurred from fraud. However, immigrant rights activists have pointed out that parents of infants subject to the policy may be reluctant to comply with proof of citizenship requirements for fear of deportation, thereby depriving children of care at a crucial development stage. In March 2007, the state of Washington filed a claim against the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) regarding the DRA citizenship regulation. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire argued that enforcement would cost the state more money by encouraging illegal immigrant parents to bring their children to emergency rooms for care rather than apply for their infants' citizenship documents.

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