Legal aid suing over Medicaid delays

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Yesterday New Haven Legal Assistance Association filed a federal class action lawsuit against DSS over extreme delays in processing Medicaid applications. The application for one plaintiff, a 27-year old man with a seizure disorder, has been in process for almost six months. He has provided all the information requested and was told by the Department that he is likely eligible. Delays in processing applications have been growing, from 38% overdue in September 2010 to 55% in November 2011. Due to the economic downturn, the number of Medicaid applications has also grown significantly. Delays are affecting not only initial applications, but also eligibility for people with high medical bills in the “spend down” category. Attorneys blame reductions in the number of eligibility workers at DSS. In the last ten years, the number of Medicaid enrollees has grown 52% but the total number of eligibility workers has dropped 30%. Attorneys largely blame neglect by previous Commissioners and are optimistic that the current administration will remedy the problem and avoid jeopardizing federal funds.