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CMS Announces Medicare, SSI Recipients Are Exempt from New Medicaid Citizenship Documentation Requirement

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in an interim final regulation that senior citizens and people with disabilities who also receive Medicare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be exempt from the new requirement that requires documentation of both citizenship and identity for all persons applying for or renewing Medicaid benefits. The action comes as a federal judge in Chicago is scheduled to hold a hearing today on a class action lawsuit challenging the new requirement, which went into effect July 1, 2006.

CMS has exempted these groups in the interim final rule to correct what it calls a drafting error in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA). According to Dr. Mark McClellan, Administrator of CMS, some 8 million people will be exempted from the documentation requirement due to this clarification.

McClellan also announced that database matches with the State Data Exchange (SDX) for individuals who have already documented their citizenship through information provided when qualifying for other programs, such as food stamps or a driver's license, may be used to meet the Medicaid citizenship documentation requirement.

CMS' interim final regulations will be published in the Federal Register on July 12, 2006. Comments from the public will be accepted through August 11, 2006. In particular, CMS has asked for comments and suggestions for the use of other electronic data matches with other government systems of records that contain reliable information about the identity of individuals.

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