Beginning this past weekend, U.S. states will begin to kick as many as 15 million people off Medicaid insurance as the emergency safety net initially put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end.
What is Medicaid? Medicaid is a public health insurance program for people who have lower incomes. It is jointly administered by the state and federal governments. Over the past three years since the global pandemic, under an emergency pandemic measure, states have stopped double-checking if people who are enrolled in Medicaid are still eligible for its coverage. Suppose you were enrolled in Medicaid in March 2020 or became eligible at any point during the pandemic. In that case, you have remained eligible the entire time no matter what, even if your income later increased. However, states will now double-check every Medicaid enrollee’s eligibility, a huge administrative task that will put health insurance coverage for millions of Americans at risk. Not everyone will be removed from the program all at once. States plan to verify all recipients’ eligibility over periods of nine months to one year.
The change is “disruptive,” said Dr. Adam Gaffney, a critical care physician at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts who advocates for health care reform. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra says the Biden administration is working with states to prevent Americans from being without any health insurance. “One of the best ways to make sure they don’t, is to make sure that governors have adopted the Medicaid expansion program, which lets them cover more Americans within their Medicaid program,” Beccera said.
People with Medicaid should ensure their personal information is up-to-date, be on the lookout for Medicaid application materials in the mail or via email, and complete the renewal application by their state’s due date. People who lose Medicaid coverage will be eligible to purchase coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The termination notice should provide instructions.