Times Laments Denied Medicaid Enrollment for Americans without Birth Certificates

Times reporter Robert Pear found a fresh class of victims of Bush administration policies in his March 12 front page article, "Lacking Papers, Citizens Are Cut from Medicaid":

A new federal rule intended to keep illegal immigrants from receiving Medicaid has instead shut out tens of thousands of United States citizens who have had difficulty complying with requirements to show birth certificates and other documents proving their citizenship, state officials say.

Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia have all reported declines in enrollment and traced them to the new federal requirement, which comes just as state officials around the country are striving to expand coverage through Medicaid and other means.

Pear goes on to cite an Iowa Medicaid administrator complaining about an actual drop in Iowans on the socialized medicine program:

"The largest adverse effect of this policy has been on people who are American citizens," said Kevin W. Concannon, director of the Department of Human Services in Iowa, where the number of Medicaid recipients dropped by 5,700 in the second half of 2006, to 92,880, after rising for five years. "We have not turned up many undocumented immigrants receiving Medicaid in Waterloo, Dubuque or anywhere else in Iowa," Mr. Concannon said.

Nowhere in his article does Pear explore the perspective that it's Concannon's goal to see a reduction in Medicaid rolls and thereby save the taxpayers of his state money. What's more, nowhere in Pear's article are conservative critics of Medicaid sought for comment on the general trend of overall entitlement growth in the past few years and the threat entitlement spending poses for taxpayers in the future.

But it's Iowa, not exactly a border state. Why the nation-wide crackdown?

According to the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, Iowa is hardly untouched by the impact of illegal immigration:

An estimated 24,000 illegal aliens resided in Iowa as of 2000, according to INS figures. This is 3.75 times higher than the previous INS estimate in 1996 and 4.8 times higher than the estimate for 1990.


In 1998, the District Director of the INS estimated that as many as 25 percent of the workers at meatpacking plants in Nebraska and Iowa were illegal aliens. In a check done in 1999, INS found that 17 percent of the workers were illegal aliens (in some plants, more than half the workers were illegal).
For all the bluster of Pear's headline and lead paragraph, he later concedes that "the numbers alone do not prove the decline in enrollment was caused by the new federal policy." What's more, Pear's textbook example of a poor American citizen denied benefits, Rhiannon Noth of Cincinnati, eventually did obtain Medicaid benefits for her children.

Pear ignored Noth's end of the bargain in obtaining Medicaid for her children, failing to inquire whether she bears any personal responsibility for the delay in producing the required documentation.