Five states in the United States have begun the process of dismantling protections that were put in place during the pandemic era to keep people on Medicaid rosters without the need for them to reapply annually. This process is expected to result in the loss of health insurance coverage for millions of people. This process, which is known as “churn,” often occurred as a result of bureaucratic hurdles that pushed people out of the system for reasons as simple as missing a letter in the mail or moving. As a consequence, the average person on Medicaid only received coverage for ten months out of the year.
Because of the public health emergency, the states were required to keep people on Medicaid without requiring them to reapply, but as the emergency comes to an end, so do the rolls for Medicaid. On April 1st, residents of Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, South Dakota, and New Hampshire will begin to lose their health insurance coverage in five states: Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, and New Hampshire. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) estimates that approximately 65 percent of people who are dropped from their health insurance plan go without coverage for at least part of the following year. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that approximately 7 million Americans who are still eligible for Medicaid will lose their benefits after three years with no “churn” in the system.
For Medicaid beneficiaries like Jeffrey Jackson, age 62, who could lose coverage in a matter of days, the prospect of losing coverage could be described as a “nightmare.” Jackson is a Medicaid beneficiary in the state of Arkansas. If he did not have access to Medicaid, he would have to make a difficult choice between buying food and his medication in order to meet his financial obligations. Jackson and other advocates are concerned about a number of issues, one of which is the fact that not enough people are aware that they are about to lose their coverage.
People will no longer be required to maintain continuous coverage in order to remain eligible for Medicaid; this requirement kept them on the program during the public health emergency. This indicates that states can now start the process of disenrolling people from Medicaid and redoing their rosters, putting vulnerable people at risk of falling through the cracks in the system. Even for those who are found to be eligible for Medicaid, the process of getting re-enrolled in the program can take several months. During this time, individuals, families, and children are at risk of falling through the cracks of the system.
It is essential to have an understanding that this represents a significant shift in the insurance coverage that people have since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act more than ten years ago, which will have an effect on millions of people. People in vulnerable situations run the risk of slipping through the cracks when there is movement of this kind. Advocates are encouraging people to check their Medicaid status, ensure that they have their paperwork up to date, and make sure that they are aware of the upcoming changes.
It is extremely important to keep in mind that Medicaid is a government program that offers medical coverage to millions of people in the United States, including those with low incomes, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities. According to the data found on Medicaid.gov, there were 81.3 million people enrolled in either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program as of February 2021. (CHIP).
In conclusion, the repeal of protections instituted during the pandemic that kept people on Medicaid rosters without the need for yearly reapplication could result in the loss of health insurance coverage for millions of people in the United States. Advocates are urging people to check their Medicaid status and make sure they are aware of the upcoming changes in order to protect vulnerable populations from the potentially devastating effects of losing coverage under Medicaid. It is essential to raise awareness and make certain that individuals do not fall through the cracks in the system in light of the largest shift in insurance coverage for people that has occurred since the Affordable Care Act was put into effect more than ten years ago.