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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Proof of citizenship welcome requirement

A new federal law, to take effect July 1, will require recipients to show proof of U.S. citizenship to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

It is a welcome next step in the struggle to get a handle on the skyrocketing cost of providing health care and other benefits to a growing illegal alien population not entitled to such assistance.

A person must be a citizen or qualified legal alien to receive Medicaid benefits. Beginning July 1, Alabama will deny benefits to those who fail to show proof of citizenship and identity, such as a birth certificate and driver license, at the time of the recipient's annual review. Potential Medicaid recipients must provide the required documentation before being awarded government-funded medical care. Moreover, the state will no longer provide health care benefits to those who are ineligible but currently receiving Medicaid assistance.

More than 900,000 individuals receive $4 billion in publicly funded Medicaid benefits in Alabama each year. Medicaid ensures that the neediest among us receive health care.

But the burgeoning illegal alien population places a strain on government-funded health care and makes it difficult to provide aid to those who need it most.

Alabama officials say they are prepared to enforce the new documentation requirement. They are educating health care providers and beneficiaries about the new requirement.

Working men and women in Alabama help fund Medicaid through payroll and other taxes. It is appropriate to require those who receive the benefits to prove they are eligible.

Denying Medicaid benefits can also eliminate one of the incentives for foreigners to come here illegally.

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