Like other government agencies, Medicaid is also now requiring the submission of new documents for non-U.S. parents of eligible children under the program. This may either be a contract worker permit or receipt issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services justifying their lawful presence in the Commonwealth.
However, unlike other agencies, Medicaid administrator Helen C. Sablan told Saipan Tribune that the additional document is not a major requirement for any recipient or applicant to be denied their benefits.
Sablan said the Medicaid program, from the beginning, has required some documents that include the local labor-issued entry permits or umbrella permits. The new requirements are just replacements for these permits that expired last year.
In the event non-U.S. parents of Medicaid recipients fail to show these new permits, she said it does not affect their application and eligibility.
“It will not affect their application. We still give the child’s supply of Medicaid and we don’t turn them away. We just make a note [on their file] that they have yet to submit their CW receipt or permit,” Sablan explained. She revealed that the office has no pending cases related to this.
Sablan said that the inclusion of the CW receipt/permit is not a federal mandate but an initiative of the local Medicaid office.
Sablan, meantime, appealed to applicants for their patience as the office is short of staff to deal with all the processing of all applications and renewals. The Medicaid office has only three personnel, including Sablan. The office receives up to 50 visits on any given day.
Two more staffers will be added as they are converting the two trainees from Workforce Investment Agency to regular employees.
She said the increasing number of eligible recipients every year is resulting in the government incurring bigger expenses for the program.
Each year, the federal cap is set at $5 million, which requires equal amount from the CNMI government. Any expenses in excess of $10 million funding is shouldered by the state. In fiscal year 2011, Obamacare reduced the local matching requirement of the CNMI from 50 percent to 45 percent until 2019. Funding for the program also significantly increased last year.