Enrollees Must Provide Social Security Numbers to Retain Coverage
OLYMPIA, Wash., Feb. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The compromise budget proposal released today by the Washington State Legislature will cut 15,000 people off Basic Health coverage. The people who will soon lose their coverage are Basic Health enrollees who are not eligible to receive federal matching funds. This population is made up of children, seniors, individuals over a certain income level, and those without documented citizenship or immigration status.
Current enrollees must provide a social security number to the state immediately to keep their coverage. Individuals without a social security number but with documentation of legal status may also be eligible to retain coverage and should contact the Health Care Authority immediately.
A new federal waiver provides federal matching funds to subsidize the Basic Health and Disability Lifeline programs. In order to collect federal money for eligible enrollees, the state must verify social security numbers or immigration status.
A social security number has never been required for Basic Health eligibility. The state's Health Care Authority recently sent letters to current enrollees without a verified social security number to request their social security number. However, the letter did not state that enrollees might lose coverage if they did not respond. Instead, it only said that they wanted the information to maximize federal funding. That is no longer true. People who have not responded will now lose their health coverage as early as February 28.
"We urge all Basic Health enrollees who have not responded to the state's request for a social security number to do so immediately to retain their coverage. We are very concerned that people will get cut off Basic Health because of confusion about eligibility," said Molly Firth, chair of the Friends of the Basic Health Coalition.
Basic Health currently provides subsidized health insurance to about 55,000 low-income people, mostly working adults. People losing Basic Health insurance are unlikely to be able to secure other health coverage. When the cuts are implemented in the coming weeks, there will immediately be another 15,000 uninsured Washingtonians. The Friends of the Basic Health Coalition is working to make sure as many people as possible keep their health coverage.
To contact the Health Care Authority, please call 1-800-660-9840.
SOURCE Washington State Hospital Association