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Wed January 11, 2012
Lawsuit Alleges State Doesn't Process Medicaid Applications Fast Enough
A federal lawsuit filed this week alleges that the state doesn't have enough people to process Medicaid applications in a timely way. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, advocates say that means thousands of low-income residents are left without access to healthcare.
Medicaid is a federal health insurance program for the nation's poor, and its costs are shared with the states. Arielle Levin Becker of the Connecticut Mirror reports this week that nearly 5,000 applications for the program have been pending longer than federal guidelines demand.
"What the lawsuit says is that in as many as 55 percent of cases recently, the department is taking longer than 45 days to process the cases, and that's leaving people who don't have a lot money and might have significant medical needs unable to access medical care and coverage for prescription drugs."
The lawsuit filed by the New Haven Legal Assistance Association claims that the state's Department of Social Services doesn't have the workers it needs to process the applications. It says that the state gets an average of 10,000 Medicaid applications every month. The department's spokesman told the Mirror that the agency is dealing with "major, double-digit percentage staffing losses" in the past decade while monthly caseloads for Medicaid have gone up. The lawsuit, the state says, will only consume more staff time -- rather than helping to find practical approaches to solving the problem.