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Effect of Immigration Status on Medicaid Eligibility Discussed

Seventeen percent of low-income, uninsured nonelderly are unauthorized or recently legal

WEDNESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Under the Affordable Care Act, a considerable proportion of low-income uninsured adults will be ineligible for Medicaid coverage due to their immigration status, and their main providers are likely to be safety-net health care providers, according to a March report published by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

Researchers from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis used a regression model based on data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to provide state-specific estimates of the number of uninsured low-income adults who will potentially be excluded from Medicaid due to immigration status.

The researchers found that an estimated 6 percent of nonelderly adults are either unauthorized immigrants or recent legal immigrants, with significant variation among states. Unauthorized immigrants or recent legal immigrants comprise an estimated 10 percent of low-income nonelderly adults nationwide, with considerable variation among states. Seventeen percent of nonelderly adults who are low-income and uninsured are unauthorized immigrants or recently legal immigrants; this figure ranges from 3 percent in Mississippi to 34 percent in Nevada and is more than 10 percent for more than half of the states.

According to the report: "Our estimates demonstrate that a substantial proportion of low-income uninsured adults will be ineligible for Medicaid because of their immigration status. Safety-net health care providers are likely to continue to be key providers for this population after health reform, and the need for safety-net care will not be spread evenly across states."

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