Statement on Vital Medicaid Bill That Would Automatically Enroll and Recertify Eligible Recipients in New York

Rebecca Antar Novick, Director of the Health Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society, issued the following statement today in support of legislation that would automatically enroll and recertify Medicaid eligible recipients (S.5485/A.7578), which passed the New York Senate on Friday and is pending in the New York State Assembly:

“The Legal Aid Society has helped countless people entitled to Medicaid navigate the complicated bureaucratic healthcare system. It’s time for these unnecessary burdens placed on some our most vulnerable citizens to end. This bill will remove those barriers to receiving health insurance and life-saving health care. It will also remove administrative burdens for consumers, plans, local districts, and the Department of Health. We applaud Senator Rivera and Assemblymember Gottfried for introducing this crucial legislation, and strongly urge the Assembly to pass the bill this session.”

Background:

Sponsored by Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, this legislation would improve two burdensome and error-prone Medicaid procedures which now cause seniors and people with disabilities to lose Medicaid, Medicare Savings Programs, and/or home care coverage, despite being eligible.

First, automating the annual Medicaid “renewal” process will prevent the erroneous termination of Medicaid eligibility for several vulnerable populations, including those receiving personal care benefits at home in a Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) plan. Frequently, these terminations result in disruptions to home care which can result in hospitalization, other negative health consequences, or tremendous burdens on family members to provide back-up care.

Second, the bill would automatically enroll consumers who need long-term personal care services into a MLTC plan after they have been approved for Medicaid and for MLTC enrollment and after they have been given the opportunity to choose their own plan but have been unable to do so. Even after being approved for MLTC, consumers must affirmatively schedule plan assessments and enroll in a plan, which many are unable to manage before their approval expires and they must start the process again. This bill also aligns the MLTC process with the other Medicaid programs.