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New Proof of Citizenship Rules Will Be Implemented Soon


The Department of Health Care Services has sent instructions to the counties for implementation of the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) requirement to provide evidence of citizenship or U.S. national status as a condition of Medi–Cal eligibility. Prior to the DRA, documentary evidence of U.S. citizenship or national status was not required unless an applicant for full–scope Medi–Cal declared a birthplace outside of the U.S. or if evidence suggested an applicant falsely claimed to be a citizen or a national of the U.S.

The new law requires Medi–Cal applicants who declare they are citizens or nationals of the U.S. to provide documentation of citizenship and identity before eligibility can be established. Current beneficiaries must provide documentation at the annual redetermination, and they will continue to receive Medi–Cal benefits as long as they are otherwise eligible and are making a good faith effort to provide documents.

Evidence of citizenship and identity is only required once. Once documentation is provided, it will not be collected again, even if the beneficiary moves to another county, has a break in aid, or has provided adequate documentation in another state.

There are a number of exemptions to the documentation requirement. For example, applicants or beneficiaries who are current or former SSI beneficiaries, Social Security Disability beneficiaries and Medicare beneficiaries are exempt from the citizenship and identity requirements. Non–citizen immigrants are not subject to the citizenship and identity verification requirement because they are not declaring citizenship status and eligibility for non–citizen immigrants will continue to be determined under existing verification procedures.

The Department of Health Care Services has provided the counties with detailed instructions on the new rules, including specific requirements for assisting applicants and beneficiaries in how to obtain the documentation and detailed notices to applicants and current beneficiaries. All of the current implementation instructions and notices are available on the website: www.dhs.ca.gov/mcs/DRA/default.htm Applicants or beneficiaries who run into problems with these new provisions should call their local legal services office or CANHR.

No DRA/Medi–Cal Changes Yet

Meanwhile, the DRA provisions that will affect long term care Medi–Cal applicants and beneficiaries will not be implemented until at least 2009, as legislation authorizing the changes has been delayed.