March 8, 2006
The Deficit Reduction Act was signed into law on February 8, 2006. The bill includes new requirements for
Depending on how this is implemented, it has the potential to create significant barriers to treatment for individuals who are currently or potentially eligible for Medicaid. That is why NAMI will be urging the Center on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the states to minimize administrative burdens on beneficiaries to the greatest extent possible. The details of state-by-state implementation are still being worked out and the Secretary of Health and Human Services can also specify other documents and processes which will satisfy the requirement. It is likely that the federal government will issue further guidance, but we don’t have this information yet.
NAMI is advocating with CMS that individuals who receive Social Security or Medicare should be deemed to meet the requirements without having to provide additional documentation. NAMI will also encourage its state leaders to advocate for state processes that will take the requirements away from the beneficiary. For example, states could use information from other state programs and vital records. We will also ask that states offer grace periods to those who need extra time getting their documents in order and that states pay the costs of getting additional documentation. But as of this writing, we don’t know how the federal government and each state will choose to implement this program.
We will provide updates as that information becomes available. Individuals and family members may choose to wait for further information because so much is currently unknown about implementation. But NAMI also wants to let families and consumers know that while other documents and processes may be identified later, the statute clearly indicates that it is sufficient if someone presents a valid
Each individual consumer and family member must consider their personal situation and whether they want to wait for further information or move forward now. We expect to have more information in the coming weeks, but we also recognize that assembling documents takes time.
Here is what you can do to prepare for the new requirements if you currently have or want to apply for Medicaid:
For a driver’s license or a state-issued identification card, check with your state. Most commonly, these are issued by the department of motor vehicles, but each state is different. Each state also has its own requirements. There is a cost associated with these cards and the statute again does not indicate who should bear the cost. Check to see if the state Medicaid agency can cover the cost of the fee. Retain your receipts, but you may not be reimbursed.
As soon as we have further guidance from CMS, we will be providing you with additional information about steps you can take to address this important issue with your state. At that time, it will be important to act quickly to promote state policies that will minimize the burden on Medicaid beneficiaries and applicants.