Thursday, March 20, 2008

Culture of Life My Left Foot--amputated and backed up over.

Via the ever necessary Orcinius

The story of how the Republicans ceaseless desire to hurt the phantom menace "illegal aliens" actually ends up costing millions of dollars to hurt legal citizens, the poor, and the ill. Oh! and don't forget the children. It specifically hurts the children. But maybe that's a feature, and not a bug?

From the AARP bulletin:

So far, he says, Oklahoma has uncovered no illegal immigrants on its rolls. And Arizona, where immigration is a huge issue, has filed two reports since the rule went into effect, each saying the state uncovered "zero" illegal immigrants among its 1 million Medicaid recipients. Kansas has found one illegal immigrant on its Medicaid rolls.

"Before this rule took effect, we did our own audit, and we were very confident Arizona was already screening out people who didn't belong," says Rainey Daye Holloway, spokeswoman for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. The rule, she adds, has not caused a drop in its rolls, which are continuing to increase.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office survey of the states last year found that that the requirement caused eligible U.S. citizens to lose Medicaid coverage while increasing administrative costs. A close analysis of six states, the report says, showed that for every $100 spent to implement the rule, only 14 cents was saved.

In fact, nationwide the rule has added millions of dollars in administrative costs.

In Wisconsin, the legislature and the governor initially authorized $1.8 million "just to deal with this rule," says James Jones, a deputy administrator in the state Department of Health and Family Services. "And we estimate it will continue to cost $800,000 a year."

Even though Wisconsin and other states are running computer checks to match birth records and other official documents to help residents qualify, many states report they are still losing eligible Medicaid recipients. Yet giving eligible residents good health care means they can be "productive and on the job or in school, and out of hospital emergency rooms. It makes good sense for the state," Jones says.

"We've tracked this, and most of the people we're losing are adults who are parents of children," he says, "and the next highest number is children under age 16." He adds that 80 to 90 percent of the Wisconsin residents with Medicaid coverage are from working families, where the adults often work two or three low-paying jobs.

"These people live tough, chaotic lives, and they can't take time out to track down documents, stand in line, come into an office and swear out affidavits," Jones says. "So their health care and the health care of their children are suffering."