Medicaid enrollment among children drops in Virginia

February 16, 2007

Since July 1, about 12,000 children dropped off Virginia's Medicaid rolls.

Since July 1, about 12,000 children dropped off Virginia's Medicaid rolls.

"An entire year's growth has been wiped out," said Cynthia Jones, chief deputy director for the state's Department of Medical Assistance Services. The drop off, Jones states, began about the time a new federal law that states that U.S. citizens applying for Medicaid or renewing their participation must present proof of their citizenship and identity took effect. The law emerged out of concern that illegal immigrants were obtaining access to health insurance coverage sponsored by the government.

Besides Virginia, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin also report declines in children enrolled in Medicaid or a decline in applications. These states are adamant that U.S. citizens and certain legal immigrants are dropping off the Medicaid rolls, not illegal immigrants.

"We believe that these new requirements are keeping otherwise eligible citizens from receiving Medicaid because they cannot provide the documents required to prove their citizenship or identity," commented Anita Smith of the Iowa Department of Human Services.