A handful of states – Arkansas, Illinois, Oregon and West Virginia – are among the first to pick up a powerful new tool for facilitating Medicaid enrollment. The new strategy, known as “administrative transfers,” (called “Fast Track” by the Oregon Health Authority), allows states to use information they already have on hand – such as SNAP income data or information about parents with children already enrolled in Medicaid – to enroll eligible individuals into Medicaid. To implement the strategy, beginning in October 2013, states sent letters to SNAP participants and parents of children in Medicaid encouraging them to “enroll today for health coverage starting January 1, 2014.”
To enroll, the person either returns a simple form or calls a toll-free number. The state still must gather additional information needed to determine eligibility, such as documentation of citizenship or immigration status, which can usually be accomplished electronically. Since October 1, these four states report that more than 250,000 individuals have been fast tracked into Medicaid. They will get coverage for up to 12 months, at which point the states will conduct a MAGI-based eligibility determination. New Jersey and California have also been approved to conduct administrative transfers, and plan to implement their procedures soon.
Getting on the fast track to Medicaid coverage has meant the world to SNAP participants like Jameka Jackson of Little Rock. As a nursing student, Jameka’s school requires her to have health insurance that meets certain standards. Now she can stop worrying about not being able to afford coverage and the risk of losing out on her education. Catherine Selen, a waitress from West Virginia whose two children are enrolled in Medicaid, says she was “ecstatic” when she got the letter from the state saying she could enroll without sending in more paperwork. Catherine, a diabetic, knows too well how frightening it is to be uninsured with no access to the insulin she needs to live.
The administrative transfer strategy was one of five opportunities CMS offered states in guidance released on May 17, 2013 (PDF, 206.71 KB) (PDF 206.71 KB). These options are allowing individuals to get coverage more quickly while relieving administrative pressure on the states. According to Oregon Health Authority official, Leslie Clement, Fast Track is “really paying off! We can move forward while the on-line systems are being addressed and still get individuals set up for enrollment.”