The Eligibility Hurdle

A new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out that due to the complex rules and regulations concerning eligibility for Medicaid, many people left uninsured by Katrina cannot get much-needed health insurance. That's a good point, although this isn't an issue restricted to Katrina. Medicaid's eligibility rules always pose something of a problem: Low-income mothers and children often qualify for Medicaid, but low-income fathers usually don't, despite the fact that fathers with low incomes can get sick and need treatment just like anyone else. Meanwhile, the eligibility rules are so intricate that many families often don't know that they're eligible even when they are. Obviously states trying to keep costs down and Medicaid rolls as small as possible have every incentive to make this all very confusing, but it has real costs for people, and it would be nice if Katrina focused more attention on this larger problem.