Immigration reform going well in Eagle County, officials say
EAGLE – Enforcement of a recently passed law that limits services for illegal aliens has gone smoothly, county officials say. But the law hasn’t significantly changed the number of benefits that are being given out, one official said.The law affects county-administered programs including Medicaid, Colorado Works income assistance, the energy program LEAP, Aid to the Needy Disabled and the Old Age Pensions.There has been no noticeable difference in the number of people who are signing up for benefits since the law went into effect Aug. 1, said Kathy Lyons of the Eagle County Health and Human Services.About 1,500 people receive Medicaid through Eagle County, and they may be affected most, said Kathleen Forinash, director of Health and Human Services for the county.To get Medicaid, you must now have a photo identification as well as a passport or birth certificate to prove citizenship. Legal residents must show a residency card and then be checked through a federal verification system.Previously, Medicaid seekers didn’t have to show any identification. They only had to make a statement that they were citizens and had to provide a Social Security number.But Forinash said she doesn’t think many illegal residents were receiving Medicaid benefits through the county before the law passed. The state’s computer verification system can notify the county of bogus Social Security numbers, she said.The law adds a bit of work for the county, Forinash said.”It’s going to take additional staff time and additional effort from participants to provide documents,” she said.The law does not affect services such as soup kitchens – only financial assistance. It also does not apply to children under 18, emergency services, immunizations and prenatal care.Chip Taylor, legislative director of Colorado Counties, said that it remains to be seen how counties will be affected by the law.”I hesitate to even guess,” he said. “I don’t think anybody knows.”
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