More than 66,000 people will lose Idaho’s Medicaid coverage as the state embarks on a major eligibility review following the end of the national public health emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s about 73% of people whose Medicaid Idaho reviews have completed so far. The state has about 62,500 more reviews to complete. If the trend continues, more than 100,000 people who had Medicaid in Idaho this spring would lose their health coverage unless they get private health insurance, try to re-enroll for Medicaid, or get coverage in some other way.
To lose Medicaid, those Idaho residents either failed to submit documents to prove their eligibility, or the state reviewed their cases and found they didn’t meet the criteria.
Tens of thousands of people who are losing health coverage have been deemed ineligible for failing to respond to renewal notices.
State health officials knew at the outset of the review that low-income Idaho residents could lose their Medicaid coverage even if they still qualified because they hadn’t received, read, understood, or responded to notifications in time.
The department this week added as ineligible Idahoans who never responded to notices to reapply for Medicaid, a group numbering in the tens of thousands, based on a comparison of data released Monday with earlier tallies.
Last week, the state reported that it had reviewed the eligibility of 58,743 people on Idaho Medicaid. It determined that about 23,500 of those people could stay on Medicaid and about 35,200 weren’t, according to weekly data from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Monday’s count showed that 91,350 reviews had been processed, with 25,070 Idaho residents eligible and now, including those who have not responded to notifications, 66,280 are ineligible to remain on Idaho Medicaid.
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Idaho Medicaid is a state but primarily federally funded program that pays for health care for low-income Idaho residents of all ages.
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Medicaid coverage was largely frozen as officials tried to ensure people could seek health care. As the United States nears its end this year, Medicaid officials across the country are preparing to begin testing whether people with continued Medicaid coverage in the pandemic era are indeed still eligible.
Idaho planned to notify approximately 20,000 Medicaid families each month that it was time to reapply for coverage from early 2023 through this fall.
I risk losing Idaho Medicaid by mistake
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that more than 17.4 percent of Americans would be removed from Medicaid as states embarked on these reviews.
But the department estimated that only about half of those dropped out of Medicaid would lose coverage because they were no longer eligible as a result of moving to another state or getting a higher-paying job, for example. The rest, about 8 percent of people on Medicaid, would lose coverage despite still being eligible, according to department estimates.
That means several thousand Idaho residents could lose Medicaid coverage while still qualifying after missing a deadline to fill out paperwork or failing to see a notice from the state, for example.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare anticipated this.
We recognize that during the (COVID-19 emergency), there was little or no contact with many participants for an extended period, as many did not complete a renewal for their Medicaid coverage, the department said in its plan for the review. mass of Medicaid . Because of this, there is a significant risk that participants who would otherwise be eligible could lose Medicaid coverage (because) they have a new address or have not updated other contact information since their last renewal which, for most people, was more from three years ago.
The department’s strategy to make sure low-income Idahoans don’t lose health coverage included creating a dedicated unit to process changes to contact information and making a good faith effort to contact an individual using more than a means of communication before ending coverage according to the departments sent a notice sent to the sender.
How much this will impact Idaho Medicaid participants won’t be fully known until we begin processing annual renewals during the settlement period, the department said in its settlement plan.
A recent study of Minnesota Medicaid data found that, when the state removed people from Medicaid after eligibility reviews, about half of them remained uninsured six months later, and a substantial share resumed Medicaid coverage within a year. year.
Many enrollees have failed to transition smoothly to new coverage, and a significant proportion of unenrollments may have been among enrollees who were Medicaid-eligible or experienced short-term changes in eligibility that did not persist for a full year, they wrote the study authors. These transitions incur administrative costs for states and can disrupt access to care.
Medicaid enrollees who are children, Latino, Black, female, and in poverty are the ones most likely to lose coverage even if they’re still eligible, according to federal forecasts.
Taking children off Medicaid can be especially costly. A study of health care claims in the Phoenix area, published in the 2007 medical journal Pediatrics, found that taking 10 percent of children off Medicaid increased health care costs by about $2,000 per unrelated child. only for the child, but also for the community as Total.
Who Qualifies for Medicaid in Idaho Now?
Since Idahos expanded Medicaid took effect following an election measure in 2018, the health safety net program has been available to all adults and children who meet income criteria and/or have disabilities.
The number of Idaho residents on Medicaid has grown over the past three years as people have continued to participate in the program, yet few people have been dropped from the program each month.
Idaho Medicaid enrollment peaked at nearly 450,000 people this year, gaining about 150,000 people since March 2020, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
The department is now about a third of the way through its one-by-one review of whether 153,857 of those people are still eligible for Medicaid.
Those close to losing Medicaid coverage were directed to another option: Your Health Idaho, the state’s health insurance exchange where middle-income Idaho residents can purchase private insurance plans with federal subsidies.
Editor’s note: This story was edited to clarify the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s inclusion of uninterviewed people in its published data on fitness reviews.
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