LA Plans To Use Food Stamp Data In Medicaid Expansion

BATON ROUGE (AP) — State health department officials say they are confident they will receive federal approval for a plan to use data from food stamp applications to qualify people for Medicaid.
 Times-Picayune’s Kevin Litten reports the approach will allow the Department of Health and Hospitals to automatically qualify tens of thousands of people for the state's expansion of Medicaid, the federally funded health care program for the poor.

         It will also reduce the workload for DHH and its contractors as they begin signing up as many as 375,000 people over the next several months for the program that's now being branded as "Healthy Louisiana."

         "We don't have to make an eligibility decision" for food stamp recipients, said Ruth Kennedy, DHH's former Medicaid director who has shifted into a newly created role that will focus on rolling out Medicaid expansion. "That decision was made by the SNAP agency."

         SNAP is the acronym used to refer to the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. Food stamp recipients qualify for the program because they're at or near the same federal poverty standard for Medicaid eligibility.

         Kennedy said DHH is preparing to send out about 100,000 letters to people that the agency has determined are eligible for Medicaid but aren't among the state's 1.4 million enrollees. All the recipients will have to do is respond to the letter, Kennedy said, and they'll be added to the program.

         The letters are expected to be sent out May 31.

         DHH officials had previously said they would use a "fast track" approach to Medicaid expansion enrollment, but the food stamp enrollment is particularly significant because the federal government had never before approved using food stamp data to qualify Medicaid recipients.

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