Medicaid, insurance fixes may be big trouble later

To circumvent the broken transfer process, the Obama administration agreed Friday to let states use an incomplete set of data — known as a “flat file” — to enroll people in Medicaid, even though those files lack critical information that states normally use to verify eligibility.

“We anticipate that the strategy … will enable states to ensure that eligible individuals have timely access to Medicaid and [Children’s Health Insurance Program] coverage in a simple and streamlined manner,” administration Medicaid chief Cindy Mann wrote in a letter to state Medicaid directors.

But the expedited enrollment process comes with big risks for states, and it’s up to them to decide whether they’re willing to risk the integrity of their Medicaid programs to sign up people faster.

“We are supposed to, as states, do our due diligence in signing up only people who are eligible,” Kathleen Nolan, state policy director for the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said Monday. “The letter is silent on what’s going to happen when it comes time to evaluate program integrity issues.”