Policy and Advocacy - Testimony

Good morning Chairman Gray and distinguished members of the committee.  My name is Eric Vicks, Associate Director Advocacy and Public Policy for the DC Primary Care Association (DCPCA.) We work to build a healthier DC by strengthening safety net community-based primary care. Our partners in this work include community health centers and FQHCs who serve 1 in 4 District residents in every ward of the District.  Today I am here to provide testimony in support of B22-0231 - Department of Health Care Finance D.C. HealthCare Alliance Amendment Act of 2017.

 

Chairman Gray, for years now, DC HealthCare Alliance consumers, who have do not qualify for Medicaid due to not meeting the lawfully presence requirement have been engaging in a difficult recertification process which penalizes them for being immigrants.  The recertification process which Alliance members are required to complete is an in-person interview which must be completed every six months. Medicaid, which is considered a successful program, does not require either a six-month or in-person recertification. These hoops are not characteristic of a sanctuary city that strives to avoid excluding residents from services based on their immigration status. The result has been more members dropping off of the roles likely due to the burden of the process, as you know there has been a long list of complaints including long lines at ESA, a lack of language skills to engage consumers, and lost documents. Those who complete the process have proven to be more costly to insure as they are sicker and need more health care; leading some in the administration to believe that they only endured the recertification process in order to address pressing health care needs.

 

DCPCA applauds your leadership in filing B22-0231. It creates options for Alliance consumers to complete registration. Shifting requirements to once a year and making the interview available by phone or with a familiar face at the community health center where the consumer receives their care are the common sense approaches we need to address this barrier to all people being covered. The benefits to this arrangement are: consumers can expect to better communicate with the individuals helping them to recertify; consumers will not have to take a day off of work, and show up at an ESA office at 5:00AM in hopes that they might be seen. The goal is to get all District residents covered so that health care is not a barrier to wellness.

 

Community Health Centers already helps consumers enroll in Medicaid and Qualified Health Plans via DC HealthLink. They provide an invaluable role in the quest to get everyone covered. Community Health Centers have been applauded in this role for their dedication, their attention to detail, and for their professionalism. When we speak of DC HealthLink we applaud the quest to have all District residents covered. These are consumers in QHPs and Medicaid. When we speak of Alliance consumers we speak of costs or the specter of non-residents stealing healthcare. We should instead focus our energies on many DC residents who simply cannot recertify due to bureaucracy and a flawed process. 

DCPCA supports an Alliance recertification process which removes the six month recertification requirement and the in-person interview.


We thank you for the opportunity to testify, and for your work and partnership in building a healthier DC. I am happy to answer any questions now or going forward.