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Issue Alert - 09-04-06

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Apr 14, 2009

Program Area:


Issue Summary:

Children who meet Medicaid eligibility criteria and are U.S. Citizens should receive Medicaid while they gather citizenship documentation (e.g. birth certificates) or picture I.D., under new federal law

Persons Affected:

Children applying for Medicaid who are U.S. Citizens

For More Information:

Center for Civil Justice 320 S. Washington, 2nd Floor Saginaw, MI 48607 (989) 755-3120, (800)724-7441 Fax: (989) 755-3558 E-mail:

Michigan Poverty Law Program 611 Church Street, Suite 4A Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3000 (734) 998-6100 (734) 998-9125 Fax


Under a 2006 change in federal law, most Medicaid applicants who are U.S. citizens must provide proof of citizenship and identity by providing specified documents.  (For more information about the rules and who is exempt, go to, under Issues We Work On, Health/Medical, Medicaid Generally/Citizenship Documentation Rules

What's Happening?

Under a recent federal law, when a child (under 19) meets all the eligibility requirements for Medicaid but has not yet submitted proof of citizenship or (if over 16) identity, the state must approve Medicaid for the child while he or she is gathering the proof requested by the Department of Human Services (DHS).  (See Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), P.L. 111-3 Section 211(b)(2).)

In general, any child who receives a Verification Checklist asking for a birth certificate or photo ID should receive approval of their Medicaid at the same time. 

As of the date this Alert is being written, DHS and the Department of Community Health (DCH, the state Medicaid agency) have not issued policies and procedures to comply with this new requirement.

What Should Advocates Do?

Encourage families with low income children to apply for Medicaid and be sure they know about this new law.

Use the flyer available at to educate families about this new requirement.

Refer families to a legal advocate if they receive a Verification Checklist asking for birth certificates, proof of citizenship, or picture ID before their child’s Medicaid is approved or opened.

Share this information with other agencies or organizations that work with families and children.

What Should Clients Do?

Apply for Medicaid and MIChild if you think you or your children may be eligible.  Children and pregnant women can use the “short form:” application at

Others should use the DHS Assistance Application (which is longer but also can be used to apply for the Food Assistance Program (Bridge Card), Child Day Care subsidy, and cash assistance) available online at

Contact the Center for Civil Justice at (800) 724-7441 or (989) 7755-3120 if you receive a verification checklist asking for your child’s birth certificate or picture ID before the child’s Medicaid is approved. 

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services offices handle these types of cases, and they do not charge a fee.

You can locate various sources of legal and related services, including the free legal aid office that serves your county, at

You can also look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.