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Report: States Need to Prepare for Medicaid Eligibility Review

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Friday, May 20, 2022   

A new report urges states to take steps to minimize Medicaid coverage loss when the state of emergency for the pandemic comes to an end.

COVID relief legislation in 2020 implemented continuous coverage for Medicaid through the public health emergency, meaning people could not be kicked off while the emergency remained in effect. It is set to expire in July, but the Biden administration has said it will give 60 days' notice, so it is likely to be renewed until at least October.

Farah Erzouki, senior policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and co-author of the report, noted many people's contact information has changed during the pandemic, and it is important for agencies to recognize it.

"Millions of people have faced housing instability; many people have moved," Erzouki pointed out. "In addition to that, many and probably most people haven't been in touch with their agencies since the start of the pandemic because they haven't needed to take any action to keep their coverage from getting terminated."

The report includes a variety of recommendations, including sending updates on the renewal process by text or email as well as by mail. New Hampshire allows participants to opt into text notifications for Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), at nheasy.nh.gov.

Jennifer Wagner, director of Medicaid eligibility and enrollment for the Center and a co-author of the report, echoed there are many opportunities for people to lose coverage despite remaining eligible. She added the increased workload might cause agencies to fall behind in answering calls and processing paperwork.

"These administrative burdens, that are part of a poorly executed renewal process, fall disproportionately on people of color, who are more likely to rely on Medicaid due to historic discrimination and overrepresentation in low-wage work," Wagner explained.

The report indicated for people who become ineligible for Medicaid because of increased income, it is important for agencies to help them access Marketplace coverage. It also recommended conducting outreach and obtaining updated contact information by partnering with other agencies, such as the U.S. Postal Service and community based organizations, as well as to ensure materials and messages are easy to understand and available in multiple languages.


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