Today is the last day of the continuous Medicaid coverage requirement that was put in place early in the pandemic. As states redetermine Medicaid coverage for 84 million+ in the coming months, it is estimated that healthcare coverage for an estimated 15 million is at risk. Experts believe that the unwinding of the continuous enrollment requirement could result in the highest increase in the uninsured rate since the Great Recession. According to estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the newly uninsured will likely disproportionately be people of color, children, and young adults. The same report also estimates that nearly 7 million enrollees could lose Medicaid coverage even if they are still eligible for it. There are fears that staffing shortages and a lack of training on how to conduct renewals within state Medicaid agencies could increase errors that lead to this “administrative churning.” Capacity-building approaches and technology solutions are available for states that can help solve for these hurdles.
On March 17, the Congressional Tri-Caucus, comprised of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus, sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra outlining their concerns about the impact of the Medicaid unwinding. “To prevent a major civil rights and health equity disaster, we believe that you should set the bar high in clearly defining and enforcing states’ and territories’ legal obligations to prevent eligible beneficiaries from losing coverage,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Becerra. The letter also called on the Biden Administration to ensure that state agencies are prepared for the unwinding and are doing everything possible to protect struggling families who may be losing their healthcare coverage.