One million lose their Medicaid safety after pandemic protections expire

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a woman at a COVID-19 testing site in New York, the United States, March 29, 2022.

Wang Ying | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

At least a million people have been excluded from Medicaid since the end of April of coverage protections put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation released Monday.

According to the KFF, the total number of people barred from Medicaid is likely higher because only 20 states make those numbers publicly available.

Many people lose Medicaid even though they are likely still eligible for it.

According to the KFF report, most people who took Medicaid in 11 states lost their coverage because they failed to complete the paperwork or because authorities were unable to contact them.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told governors in a letter Monday that he was deeply concerned that people who remained eligible for Medicaid would lose their insurance coverage due to problems with paperwork.

Becerra urged governors to do more to ensure people continue to participate in the program.

“I ask that we redouble our efforts, expand on what is working, and push even harder to ensure no beneficiary suffers an avoidable insurance loss,” Becerra wrote.

Becerra told governors he was particularly concerned that children would lose their insurance if their parents were excluded from Medicaid. The secretary said he is concerned that parents may not understand that their children are still eligible for Medicaid or the children’s health insurance program.

“Even if parents think they are no longer eligible, states should ask parents to continue filling out renewal forms for their children,” Becerra said. “We also urge you to share news with parents about Medicaid renewals by schools, early childhood programs and summer camps.”

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The Covid safety net ends

Congress banned states in principle from excluding people from Medicaid coverage during the Covid public health emergency. These protections resulted in an historic surge in enrollments in the insurance program, which generally provides protection to those on lower incomes.

Those safeguards expired in April after Congress passed a spending bill in December that gave states the green light to begin screening people’s eligibility for the first time in years.

Medicaid is administered by the states but is heavily funded by the federal government.

States are not permitted to cancel an individual’s coverage simply because the renewal documentation sent to the address provided has been returned as undeliverable. Authorities must attempt to engage with individuals through more than one communication method during the renewal process.

Becerra said HHS will use its powers to ensure states comply with these terms.

HHS estimates that about 15 million people will lose Medicaid protection as states review their eligibility. Many of these individuals are eligible for insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace or an employer.

However, 6.8 million people are expected to lose Medicaid protection while still being eligible.

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