Avoid the great “Unwinding” – 15 million at risk of losing medicaid

15 million at risk of losing medicaid

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

On April 1, 2023, states will resume reviewing all 86.7 million Medicaid enrollees’ eligibility for the first time since the pandemic started and will begin ending coverage for those found ineligible. This process is called “unwinding” and, according to estimates, it could result in up to 15 million people leaving the program.

Medicaid enrollment has grown by over 30% to nearly 84 million people, or about 1 in 4 people in the US. This policy ends on March 31st and states will ‘unwind’. Research predicts that communities of color and children are much more likely to lose coverage despite still being eligible. EMS has teamed up with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) to bring this topic to the attention of our audiences and to explain how to avoid losing badly needed coverage.

Loss of eligibility will require 9.5% of beneficiaries to transition to another source of health insurance, while nearly 8% will leave the program despite remaining eligible due to difficulty navigating the renewal process and other administrative issues. About 5.3 million children and 4.7 million young adults ages 18 to 34 are predicted to lose coverage. Of those, nearly a third are Latino and 15% are Black.

Farah Erzouki, Senior Policy Analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said millions of people may not receive their renewal notices or may not understand that they need to re-apply. Medicare agencies are also likely to fall behind in processing renewals. State agencies can and must act now. They should focus on outreach to families; strengthen their renewal processes; and help people transition to other coverage through the Affordable Care Act. States should also transition to electronic data and ensure that people can re-enroll online. To learn more, visit HealthCare.gov (or your state-based marketplace) or call 1-800-318-2596.

Laura Guerra-Cardus, Director of State Medicaid Strategy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained on who will lose the benefits:

  1. Young people who turned 19 during the pandemic and no longer qualify for children’s coverage
  2. Low-income parents who no longer have dependent children at home
  3. Postpartum women who received coverage, but are no longer eligible due to the length of time after delivery

Recipients should:

  1. Update their contact information
  2. Regularly check the mail for renewal forms
  3. Complete and return renewal forms for themselves and their children
  4. Check healthcare.gov to transition to marketplace coverage, if needed

Kristen Golden Testa, Health Policy Director, The Children’s Partnership said this will affect schools, businesses, health plans, churches, legislators, and community-based organizations because such a large portion of those in our community are at risk of losing Medi-Cal coverage. The Children’s Partnership urges the state to implement its own continuous coverage for young children now, so children do not fall through the cracks during this unwinding period. In California, all children are eligible for CHIP coverage, because our state insures everyone, regardless of immigration status.

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