Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Proposed Change to D.C. Healthcare Alliance Would Erect High Barriers to Health Coverage

 

Andrew Patterson, Staff Attorney

Mayor Gray’s proposed budget includes a significant policy change in the D.C. Healthcare Alliance, a District-run health insurance program that covers low-income individuals who don’t qualify for Medicaid.  Currently, Alliance enrollees must recertify (demonstrate that they are still eligible for the program based on their residency and income) once per year by filling out and sending in a form. The Mayor is proposing that Alliance enrollees recertify twice a year by having a face-to-face interview with an Income Maintenance Administration employee.

Legal Aid is very concerned about what these changes would mean for our clients who rely on the Alliance for their health coverage.  Inadequate notification, concerns about taking time off work, and well-documented administrative problems at IMA could keep low-income District residents from getting the healthcare they need.  While we understand the budget pressures the District faces, this proposal would exacerbate problems with the existing recertification process rather than strengthen it, and would likely jeopardize health coverage for many eligible District residents. 

The budget hearing for the Department of Healthcare Finance, which administers the Alliance, took place on Thursday, April 16. Legal Aid submitted testimony raising our concerns about the proposed Alliance recertification process.  During the hearing, Chairman Catania expressed his concern with the burden this policy change would place on IMA.  We also urged the Council to avoid lowering Medicaid and Alliance provider reimbursement rates or cutting services available under these programs, issues that we have previously discussed on this blog. 

For a more detailed explanation of our position on the Alliance recertification process, read our full testimony.  To express your concerns about the proposed change to the Alliance, contact Councilmember David A. Catania, Chair of the Committee on Health, at (202) 724-7772 or dcatania@dccouncil.us.

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