The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) today praised the Bush Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for exempting millions of the most vulnerable Medicaid recipients from a new law that requires them to prove they are United States citizens by showing birth certificates, passports or other documents.

"Despite the clear validity of the law's original intent, which is to ensure Medicaid recipients are indeed U.S. citizens, we have been particularly concerned about applying the new law to cognitively-impaired Medicaid beneficiaries living in nursing homes, assisted living and intermediate care facilities for persons with mental retardation," said Bruce Yarwood, President and CEO of AHCA/NCAL.

"We applaud the announcement by CMS Administrator Mark McClellan that more than 8 million of the 55 million Medicaid recipients would be exempt from the new documentation requirement because they had established their citizenship when they applied for Medicare or Supplemental Security Income," he continued. "Reason and fairness have prevailed in this case, and we thank the Administration for this intelligent public policy correction."

In letters to CMS outlining the profession's concerns, Yarwood said many of the Medicaid beneficiaries in question have cognitive impairments so severe that it is not feasible for them to assist in locating the required documentation, and many also do not have families to help this process. Further, he said, many individuals, especially in rural areas, may not have been born in hospitals and never issued birth certificates, while others may have lost all their records during Hurricanes Katrina or Rita, in fires, or for other equally valid reasons.

The American Health Care Association and the National Center For Assisted Living are the nation's leading long term care organizations. AHCA/NCAL and their membership are committed to performance excellence and Quality First, a covenant for healthy, affordable and ethical long term care. AHCA/NCAL represent nearly 11,000 non-profit and proprietary facilities dedicated to continuous improvement in the delivery of professional and compassionate care provided daily by millions of caring employees to more than 1.5 million of our nation's frail, elderly and disabled citizens who live in nursing facilities, assisted living residences, subacute centers and homes for persons with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

American Healthcare Association

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