Babies Medicaid DenialSince 1984, federal Medicaid law has required that states provide one year of automatic Medicaid eligibility to babies whose mothers are sufficiently poor that the baby’s birth was covered by Medicaid. For the past 22 years, these babies have been able to get check-ups and other health care services that can be critical to their health and development, without the delays in coverage that otherwise would result if the babies were made ineligible for Medicaid until an application has been filed on their behalf, all necessary paperwork has been completed, and the state Medicaid agency has processed the application.

Now, without any change in the law, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has instructed states that they may no longer provide automatic coverage to some babies, even though these babies have been born in the United States and are U.S. citizens and Medicaid has covered the cost of their birth. According to CMS, when a baby is born to a mother who does not herself meet the citizenship requirements for Medicaid, the baby may not be covered by Medicaid until an application is filed and all necessary documents — including proof of the baby’s citizenship and identity — are submitted, despite the fact that the Medicaid program paid for the birth on U.S. soil and knows unquestionably that the infant is a U.S. citizen.