Feds give partial OK to Illinois Medicaid reforms
Updated: May 7, 2012 1:27AM
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-13th) and state Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Westmont) responded to news that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have agreed to allow Illinois to move forward on at least one of two efforts to combat Medicaid fraud.
The agency had previously argued that the Obama administration’s health overhaul prohibits states from implementing verification procedures that would prevent non-residents from fraudulently obtaining health benefits intended for lower-income Illinois families.
According to a letter dated Feb. 29 from CMS Director Cindy Mann to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, state health officials will be permitted to verify the residency of Medicaid applicants through program records, electric sources and physical documents.
“After review of the information provided, we believe the state’s proposal is permissible under the (maintenance of effort) provisions of the law,” the letter said.
The decision follows months of discussions between Illinois heath officials and CMS, as well as a letter that Biggert and 11 other members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation sent to CMS protesting its previous decision to block new income and residency verification procedures. CMS’s letter, however, addressed only residency verification procedures, and did not indicate that the agency would permit Illinois to also move forward with income verification, as provided in state law.
“These verification standards were enacted with overwhelmingly bipartisan support to protect our state’s Medicaid system for those who need it most,” said Biggert, a co-sponsor of House Resolution 1683,to preserve the flexibility of individual states to implement reforms like those passed in Illinois. “The administration’s health overhaul should not stand in the way, especially when fraud is draining precious resources that are sorely needed for other programs.
“(The) decision will let Illinois move ahead on one front, but it remains to be seen whether CMS will continue blocking progress elsewhere. It’s time for the administration to let Illinois and other states protect Medicaid for lower-income families. I applaud Representative Bellock for her leadership on this issue, and look forward to working with her to help Illinois fight fraud.”
Medicaid supports the health care of lower-income Illinois citizens.
In 2011, the state Legislature adopted bipartisan reforms spearheaded by Bellock requiring Medicaid applicants to show proof of income eligibility and state residency.
“It is encouraging that the federal CMS finally gave our state some flexibility in addressing the residency requirement,” said Bellock. “This is a first step; and we look forward to working with Representative Biggert and our entire congressional delegation on more flexibility in addressing the income verification issue and other major Medicaid reforms.”
For information on proposed Medicaid reforms and the letter that Illinois lawmakers sent to CMS, go to http://biggert.house.gov/press-releases/biggert-kirk-illinois-delegation-members-call-on-feds-to-ok-bipartisan-state-medicaid-reforms/.