Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made public letters it sent to state Medicaid agencies across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The letters identified three main areas of concern, including high rates of procedural Medicaid disenrollments, long call center wait times and call abandonment rates, and slow application processing. Nearly one-third of states have received warnings, specifically that their lengthy call center wait times may be causing people to hang up and not pursue further attempts to renew their Medicaid coverage. Among the 16 states that were sent a warning about this issue, the average call center wait time was 25 minutes and the average hang up rate was 29%.

This week, Representative Earl Carter (R-Georgia) and Representative Neal Dunn (R-Florida) introduced The Medicaid Staffing Flexibility and Protection Act in to help address the issue with long call center wait times and alleviate staffing shortages at state Medicaid agencies. The legislation allows state Medicaid agencies to hire outside contractors to help with the redetermination process, a step that lawmakers are hoping will help reduce procedural disenrollments, long call wait times and call abandonment rates. “As states work diligently to protect taxpayer dollars and maintain the integrity of their Medicaid programs, it is important that they have the options they need to efficiently execute the redetermination process,” said Representative Dunn in a news release. Health experts estimate that approximately 75% of the people disenrolled from Medicaid so far have been removed due to procedural reasons.