It's not only people with behavioral health problems, obviously, but all of the low income evacuees -- including people who didn't used to be low income but have now lost their jobs and had their homes destroyed -- who need to worry about Medicaid eligibility. This is a huge problem, however, since a) it's not clear that they legally reside in the states where they are now located; b) they have no documents or means of proving their eligibility; and c) the state bureaucracies wherever they happen to be are likely to be overwhelmed by displaced persons.
The Commonwealth Fund has some info.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2005 -- State Medicaid officials said Friday they want "simple and straightforward" answers from the federal government about financial reimbursement for health services provided to Hurricane Katrina victims.
They need to know, for example, how to proceed with Medicaid eligibility for Katrina victims whose Medicaid status cannot immediately be verified and for individuals who now qualify for the program due to losses suffered in the hurricane, Ohio Medicaid Director Barbara Edwards said Friday during a telephone news briefing sponsored by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.
The technical questions related to providing coverage for Katrina victims who relocated from their home states, made more complex by the numerous differences among the states' Medicaid programs, demand "simple and straightforward" answers from the feds.
Ruth Kennedy, Louisiana's deputy Medicaid director, said during the briefing the hurricane damage was sure to increase the demand for Medicaid-provided services. For example, elderly people previously cared for by family members at home will now require nursing home care. Evacuees have significant health needs and must be enrolled in Medicaid coverage as quickly as possible, Kennedy said.
"Time is of the essence," she said, adding that the more days that pass before state officials know what Medicaid will pay for, the more difficult it will be to provide needed health services.
While President Bush said Thursday that states would be reimbursed for "showing compassion" to Katrina victims, Edwards said it remained unclear how state Medicaid programs and their health providers would be compensated for delivering care to hurricane victims. Bush, in his remarks, said he would work with Congress to reimburse states for providing Medicaid services.
Democrats in the House and Senate have offered legislation that would provide full federal funding for Medicaid services to Katrina victims without requiring them to pass the program's asset or income tests.
Scottie says the administration is working on it, promises to open the money spigot some time. I hope somebody is watching.