D.C. cracking down on outsiders getting free
city health care
By: Michael Neibauer
Examiner Staff Writer
September 6, 2009
The District is closing a loophole that has allowed non-D.C. residents to get millions of dollars
worth of free health insurance at the expense of city taxpayers.
The D.C. Healthcare Alliance is a free health care program for thousands of city residents who
are ineligible for any other benefits such as Medicaid. The city spends $189 per person per
month to insure each participant.
The absence of safeguards to shield the alliance from fraud might have enabled rampant cheating
in past years, outside auditor Bert Smith & Co. reported in early 2008.
Non-D.C. residents had easy access to free care, the audit found, as there was “minimal or no
documentation” required from people who claimed to be homeless.
But new rules that take effect Sept. 15 will require that all alliance applicants verify their city
address by providing one of several documents, like a driver’s license or voter registration card,
or by partnering with a nonprofit or proven District resident on a proof of residency form.
Verifying residency is expected to dramatically cut the alliance rolls. Total enrollment as of July
was 54,239, but the District’s fiscal 2010 budget assumes only 45,960 participants.
The 8,279 fewer members equates to $18.8 million in savings. “Maintaining the integrity of the
Alliance program is critical to ensuring its long-term sustainability during these tough economic
times,” Julie Hudman, director of the Department of Health Care Finance, said in a statement.
Hudman’s agency has announced that, by the end of September, it will likely remove 365 people
from the alliance rolls who are also receiving Medicaid benefits, and an additional 160 members
who have private insurance.
The Bert Smith audit did not estimate a total number of ineligible alliance clients. But it did, for
example, reveal that more than 600 people were allowed to remain in the alliance after their