Prepare for mass Medicaid renewals

Medicaid programs across the country are quickly approaching what will be an enormous undertaking — one that will impact more than 3 million Michigan residents who rely on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for their medical coverage.

In Alpena County alone, there are 6,812 Medicaid enrollees, 3,275 adults enrolled in the Healthy Michigan Plan (Medicaid expansion), and 3,263 children enrolled in Medicaid.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted at the start of the pandemic in 2020, ensured that state Medicaid programs would receive increased federal funding throughout the duration of the federal public health emergency if the state did not disenroll any Medicaid beneficiary.

But a change was put into motion in late 2022, when President Joe Biden signed the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, that delinked the Medicaid/CHIP continuous coverage requirement from the public health emergency. That provided an end date for the continuous coverage requirement of March 31, 2023.

In April 2023, Medicaid enrollees will no longer be guaranteed continuous coverage and states will begin the process of redetermining eligibility for everyone enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, putting millions at risk of losing essential health care coverage for themselves and their children.

Michigan has already begun sending awareness letters to Medicaid and CHIP enrollees to inform them of the forthcoming renewal process. A table provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services outlines the timeline for renewals planned for our state.

So how can Michiganders enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP prepare for this process?

First, make sure your contact information is up to date. That can be done at Michigan.gov/MIBridges. And, secondly, if you receive a renewal form for your Medicaid or CHIP coverage, make sure to complete and return it promptly.

The Michigan League for Public Policy and many other advocacy groups want to help keep Michiganders insured. A large increase to the number of uninsured in our state would have countless negative impacts on residents’ health and livelihoods.

Coverage continuity supports people in maintaining their health. Losing health insurance coverage means losing access to vital medications and treatments and exposing individuals and families to the risk of medical debt in the event of a health emergency.

As of January of this year, more than 3.2 million Michiganders were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP — nearly 32% of the state’s population. And, of those, more than a million are children, including very young children who rely on a regular schedule of preventive and primary care doctor visits.

Remaining consistent with those visits becomes much more challenging for families without insurance. Precarious coverage is even more significant for families with adults or children living with a chronic health condition and can lead to severe negative health consequences that may have been prevented or alleviated with uninterrupted coverage.

There is a concern that, throughout the renewal process, eligible people will lose coverage simply because they did not receive a renewal notice or because of some other administrative error.

Fortunately, the unwinding process can serve as an opportunity for our state to make meaningful improvements to how people enroll and renew Medicaid coverage. Even small administrative hurdles can discourage eligible people from completing a Medicaid application, so updates to enrollment and renewal procedures may prevent eligible families from going without or losing coverage.

Additionally, if someone is ultimately found to be ineligible for Medicaid or CHIP, a concerted effort should be made to effectively transition them to alternative types of coverage, including options on the individual marketplace on healthcare.gov. Supporting increased health care navigator programs and call center staffing will ensure people receive help when they have questions about the renewal process or need to transition to marketplace coverage.

Last summer, the League shared a set of recommendations with key leaders and decision-makers on strategies to foster a smooth unwinding and to inform residents who may not be aware of the end of the continuous coverage requirement and the renewal process to come.

We know Michigan officials are working diligently to protect coverage for millions of Michiganders, and we hope our state succeeds in limiting churn, mitigating coverage loss, and unwinding the Medicaid/CHIP continuous coverage requirement without massive disruptions.

In a best-case scenario, no one who is eligible will lose Medicaid or CHIP coverage and those who are no longer eligible will enroll in another form of coverage without becoming uninsured.

To achieve that will require preparation and action from everyone, including those enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP, state leaders, and advocates alike.

Amber Bellazaire is senior policy analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy.


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