Federal lawmakers pressed HHS today to step up its efforts to cover newborns under Medicaid. The CMS in March had announced that all low-income newborns would be receiving equal access to Medicaid, meaning that a child born to a mother receiving Medicaid would automatically be eligible for the program for a full year, if certain conditions were met.
In a letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, the lawmakers urged the department to reconsider its policy requiring newborns whose births are paid for by Medicaid to document citizenship after the first year of life. Given that Medicaid has paid for the birth of these children, they are by definition U.S. citizens and should not be subject to further administrative burdens that could undermine access to care, the letter stated.
An HHS spokeswoman challenged the letters claims that the CMS hadnt been following up with the states on this issue. The agency has been notifying the states through phone calls and will post a final regulation on the policy in the Federal Register in coming weeks, she said.
The letter was signed by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health; Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, respectively; and Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), a member of the Finance panel. -- by Jennifer Lubell