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Illinois to tighten Medicaid eligibility

Feb. 20, 2012 at 3:28 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Feb. 20 (UPI) -- New enrollment restrictions for Medicaid in Illinois, effective March 1, include electronic cross-checks on residency and income data, officials said.

State officials developed the new rules after a year of talks with federal health counterparts to try to determine whether the 2010 healthcare law's "maintenance of effort" requirement that bars states from doing anything that would reduce the number of people who qualify for Medicaid would include any measure that would reduce the pool of Medicaid recipients through more vigorous checking, Stateline.org reported.

Medicaid officials said the new procedures -- which will help ferret out people who make too much money or who don't actually live in Illinois -- will eliminate thousands of current beneficiaries and save the state more than $1 million.

Most states face huge shortfalls in the money they need to pay their bills for Medicaid, a means-tested, state-managed program jointly funded by state and federal governments. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said the state must cut $2 billion from its $14 billion program to balance this year's budget.

After trying to work with federal officials to get sign-off on the state's plan to tighten requirements, Illinois Medicaid Director Julie Hamos sent a letter in early February to the Department of Health and Human Services, outlining the steps the state would take to verify where people lived and how much money they made, Stateline.org reported Friday.

Instead of requiring additional paperwork that the federal government nixed, Hamos said the state would use existing sources to verify the accuracy of Medicaid applications. If residency can't be verified by the data, she said, Medicaid would require applicants to provide an alternate form of verification.

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