Most adults with family Medicaid coverage don’t know that once the Covid-19 public health emergency ends, regular Medicaid renewals will return, a new report showed.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act required continuous coverage for Medicaid enrollees and prohibited states from disenrolling beneficiaries during the public health emergency. In return, they received higher federal Medicaid funding. But once the public health emergency ends — which is currently set for January but may be extended again — state Medicaid agencies will return to the normal renewal process.
The Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, released Tuesday, used data from a June survey. It found that when asked if they had heard about their state returning to renewals once the public health emergency ends, 5% of adults with family Medicaid coverage said they’ve heard a lot about it, 16.2% said they’ve heard some, 15.7% said they’ve only heard a little and a whopping 62% said they haven’t heard anything.
Of those who have heard at least something about returning to renewals, they mostly received the information from the media, at 34.3%. This includes social media, television, radio and newspapers. After that, consumers received their information from a state agency (30.6%), a health insurance company (24.5%), a healthcare provider (17.8%) or somewhere else (6.5%). This indicates that “other information sources, especially state Medicaid agencies, could play a larger role in communicating the change and implications for enrollees,” the report said.
Additionally, of those who received information from state agencies or health plans, 50.4% received a notification of the need to renew coverage, 36.4% received a request to verify their address or contact information and 34.4% received a request to update income or other factors. Only 29.1% received information about other coverage sources and 21.3% were told about how to get consumer assistance for the renewal process.
Once the public health emergency ends, it is predicted that 17.5% of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollees will lose coverage, amounting to about 15 million people, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Making people aware of the return of Medicaid renewals will not be easy, the researchers contended.
“Low awareness of the resumption of Medicaid renewals indicates state programs may face significant information gaps among enrollees about the looming change,” the report stated. “And effective communication on this issue is challenging given that a specific date for the end of the [public health emergency] had not been set at the time of the survey and is still pending.”
Still, there are some things Medicaid agencies can do, such as renewing some enrollees automatically. These agencies are also required to have a plan in place for the end of the public health emergency, the report said.
“It will be critical that they take advantage of these tools to ensure enrollees who remain eligible do not unnecessarily lose coverage and that those losing eligibility are linked to other affordable coverage, such as that available through the Marketplaces,” the researchers stated.
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