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Local News

More than 500K Michiganders have lost Medicaid since the end of automatic enrollment 

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BY: JON KING

While more than 1.2 million Michiganders have had their Medicaid coverage renewed since last June, more than half-million others have been left off the rolls.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said last week it had renewed Medicaid and Healthy Michigan Plan coverage for 130,688 people whose eligibility was up for redetermination in January, bringing the total to 1.24 million.

“I’m pleased that we have been able to preserve access to health care by renewing Medicaid and Healthy Michigan Plan coverage for more than 1.2 million Michiganders,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “We will continue to do everything that we can to inform beneficiaries about the need to return renewal paperwork so they don’t lose their benefits.”

However, MDHHS figures show 12,484 recipients lost coverage in January, among approximately 542,000 who have been dropped either due to no longer being eligible or for procedural reasons since automatic re-enrollment ended in Michigan in June 2023.

The Detroit News reported that number more than doubled a Michigan House Fiscal Agency (HFA) forecast in January 2023, which anticipated only about 200,000 people would be disenrolled. Meanwhile, according to a November 2023 report, HFA anticipates “a continuing, but tapering, caseload decline as Medicaid cases that would have been closed under normal circumstances are processed, followed by a more gradual decline back to pre-pandemic caseload trends.” That is currently expected to occur by October 2026. 

Medicaid is the country’s public health insurance program that provides health coverage for about 86 million low-income adults, pregnant people and children nationwide. In Michigan, approximately 3 million people – about one-third of the state – are covered by public insurance. 

Medicaid enrollees in Michigan had not been required to reapply for coverage for three years after annual renewals were paused during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that changed when Congress in late 2022 passed legislation that ended continuous enrollment on March 31, 2023. Michigan held off disenrollments until June, with annual renewals being staggered to take place monthly through May 2024.

Despite that, the reapplication process has resulted in Michiganders, and Americans in general, losing Medicaid coverage either because their income is now too high to be eligible, or due to red tape, such as not providing requested verification documents including a driver’s license, pay stubs and/or bank statements. 

MDHHS has emphasized the steps it has taken to try and assist applicants in cutting through that red tape, including: 

  • Sending renewal notices four months before a beneficiary’s renewal date and follow up with text messages, phone calls and emails.
  • Renewing Medicaid eligibility for people receiving benefits under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program without conducting separate income determinations.
  • Permitting managed care plans to assist enrollees in completing renewal forms.
  • Reinstating eligibility for people who were disenrolled for procedural reasons and are subsequently redetermined to be eligible for Medicaid during a 90-day reconsideration period.
  • Extending renewals to May 2024 for beneficiaries undergoing life-saving treatment, such as dialysis or for cancer.
  • Extending automatic reenrollment into a Medicaid managed care plan to up to 120 days.
  • Providing beneficiaries an extra month to submit paperwork to avoid loss of health care coverage.

For those who were disenrolled based on a procedural reason and are subsequently found to still be eligible for Medicaid during a 90-day reconsideration period, MDHHS said they will reinstate eligibility back to the termination date. 

The agency also advises all Medicaid enrollees to check their renewal month and renew online at Michigan.gov/MIBridges

For those Michiganders who no longer qualify, MDHHS says they will receive additional information about other affordable health coverage options available, including on HealthCare.gov

“Affected Michiganders can shop for and enroll in comprehensive health insurance as they transition away from Medicaid,” stated a release. “Many can purchase a plan for less than $10 per month. Michigan Medicaid beneficiaries can learn more, including what they need to do to prepare for renewals, on the Medicaid Benefit Changes website.”

This article is republished from the Michigan Advance under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.