- The HHS is offering additional assistance to states as they continue Medicaid redeterminations, which kicked off after a period of continuous enrollment in the public health insurance program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The department said the new tools build on flexibilities previously offered to states. They include allowing managed care plans to help people complete their renewal forms and letting states hold off on removing enrollees for administrative reasons to allow for targeted outreach. Pharmacies and other community-based organizations can also help beneficiaries who were recently disenrolled for administrative reasons to re-enroll.
- In a letter to governors, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra wrote he was “deeply concerned with the number of people unnecessarily losing coverage, especially those who appear to have lost coverage for avoidable reasons that State Medicaid offices have the power to prevent or mitigate.”
More than a million people have been disenrolled from Medicaid so far, according to KFF. Some states are reporting high numbers of procedural enrollments, where beneficiaries are removed from coverage because they didn’t complete the renewal process.
“Nobody who is eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program should lose coverage simply because they changed addresses, didn’t receive a form or didn’t have enough information about the renewal process,” Becerra said in a statement.
The secretary urged states to work with local organizations like schools and faith groups to help enrollees with the renewal process, citing an example of Chicago Public Schools, which assists with family outreach.
In the letter, Becerra stressed the importance of preventing children from losing coverage, who may still be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP plans even if their parents aren’t. He argued states should ask parents to fill out renewal forms for their kids even if they suspect parents are no longer eligible for Medicaid.
States were allowed to begin paring down Medicaid rolls more than two months ago, though some have not started the process. Medicaid enrollment skyrocketed during the pandemic as states kept beneficiaries continuously enrolled in exchange for expanded federal funding.
But many enrollees are unaware of the Medicaid redeterminations process, according to a recent poll from KFF. Nearly half said they hadn’t previously renewed their coverage.
The National Association of Medicaid Directors supported the HHS’ new actions, emphasizing the importance of partners helping beneficiaries navigate the process. NAMD Executive Director Kate McEvoy said it’s still early to determine how many people have lost coverage, as they could have moved to employer-sponsored plans or found insurance through the federal or state marketplaces.
“This year of unwinding won’t be simple or static. Data will change month over month as people are redetermined, states make course corrections and new people come onto the program. The bottom line is that states are and will continue to be in a constant cycle of evaluating experience and data, and pivoting their approach to address emerging issues of concern,” she wrote.