About 98,000 families must verify lawful presence in US before Sept. 30
LOS ANGELES – About 98,000 families are being asked by Covered California to verify their lawful presence here in the United States, either as citizens, nationals, or individuals with eligible immigration status, in order for them to continue receiving health coverage under the statewide insurance marketplace.
Covered California has begun reaching out to affected families via mail and email, notifying them that they need to resolve the eligibility inconsistencies in their 2014 enrollment documents on or before Sept. 30, in order to avoid the risk of termination of health coverage.
“We want to clear these inconsistencies so that our consumers can have a smoother renewal process without any interruption in their coverage,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee in a news release.
Lee said that they are using a “multi-touch, multi-channel outreach” approach to notify the people who risk losing coverage.
Covered California assured consumers that their documents will be treated with utmost confidentiality and will be used only to determine the consumers’ eligibility for health coverage and will not be used for immigration enforcement.
Lee clarified that the need for additional papers could be the result a wide array of possible scenarios.
Consumers may have previously submitted the required documents to covered California, but the agency had difficulty in reconciling the information to verify the individual’s legal status.
For example, some documents furnished to Covered California were illegible. In some cases, two separate pieces of evidence of legal status were needed, but only one document was sent.
This is why Covered California asks its customers to send those documents again, so that the agency can reconcile the inconsistencies.
Covered California said that they will provide consumers with instructions on how to submit the documents. The customers can submit via uploading online, sending via US mail, or faxing the documents to (888) 329-3700. Likewise, community partners, certified insurance agents, certified enrollment counselors, service center representatives and county eligibility workers, will be able to help customers through this process.
Lee also added that aside from canceling the insurance of those who fail to submit additional documents, Covered California will also have to cancel any federal tax credit these customers may be receiving that lowers their monthly premiums.
“If you have received tax credits, and your health insurance is canceled, you may have to repay those tax credits. If your health insurance is cancelled, you may also have to pay a tax penalty,” Lee said.
Community groups express concern
Los Angeles-based organizations have expressed their concerns over the announcement of the new requirements.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA), a legal and civil rights advocacy group, said that they are worried that the notices are being sent out only in English and Spanish. According to the group, immigrants in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, who have limited English proficiency, may find it difficult to understand the inconsistency notices sent out by Covered California, or they may not understand the negative consequences of failing to meet the Sept. 30 deadline.
Doreena Wong, Advancing Justice – LA’s health access project director, urged those who bought insurance from Covered California to pay careful attention to any notices they have received from the health exchange.
“If you need help submitting documents, Advancing Justice – LA encourages you to seek out Certified Enrollment Counselors and community based organizations that speak your language. It is critical that anyone receiving an ‘inconsistency notice’ respond as soon as possible to avoid losing health coverage,” Wong said.
The following documents may serve as proof of eligible immigration status: a US passport; a certificate of naturalization (N-550/N-570); a certificate of citizenship (N-560/N-561); a US public birth certificate; a state-issued driver’s license; a federal, state, or local ID card; a school ID card; a foreign passport; and a green card.
A complete list of documents can be found on CoveredCA.com.
Critical of reform
Arturo Garcia, director for the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles and national coordinator for Justice for Filipino American Veterans, remained critical of the health reform program.
He pointed out that the announcement of additional requirements have made it “another bureaucratic maze” and that minority
groups like Asians and Filipinos would have a hard time accessing their benefits under this program.
Garcia likened the health care reform to President Barack Obama’s promise on immigration reform.
“Like his promise that he will pass the immigration law for 11 million immigrants, Covered California is another promise that was made to be broken,” Garcia said.
(LA Weekend September 13-16, 2014 Sec. A pg.1)