More than 29,000 Mississippians lost Medicaid coverage at the end of June after the federal government ended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Those disenrolled accounted for 44% of those who were up for renewal.
The Mississippi Division of Medicaid reported the figures on Monday, saying in a press release that the totals reflect “the first month of eligibility renewals that have been initiated as part of a yearlong, federally mandated effort for state Medicaid programs to restore eligibility operations following the end of the continuous provision that was in effect during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE).”
Since March 2020, federal requirements have prevented state Medicaid departments from disenrolling people even after they become ineligible. In December 2022, Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which required state Medicaid departments to resume eligibility determinations by April 1.
“In April, DOM initiated reviews for 67,695 beneficiaries with June renewal months,” the Mississippi Division of Medicaid said in its press release Monday. “Approximately 56% of the beneficiaries in the June review month retained coverage. Of the more than 29,000 who were disenrolled, at least 60% were individuals whose coverage had previously been extended because of the special eligibility rules during the PHE.”
Under the COVID-19 orders, DOM said, the state’s Medicaid rolls increased from 716,896 in March 2020 to 904,590 in June 2023 before the disenrollments. DOM has reported the figures to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“Total enrollment is expected to continue to decline as redeterminations continue, and monthly numbers will be reported to CMS during this process,” the division said.
Ahead of the end of the PHE, the Mississippi Division of Medicaid launched its “Stay Covered” campaign in January to “raise awareness about redeterminations and the importance for members to update their contact information,” the press release notes.
In February, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Daniel Edney told the Mississippi Free Press he was “concerned” about the impact of “a large segment across the country” losing Medicaid after the PHE’s end. “And for us in Mississippi, it will be low-income workers who qualified under the emergency health order (who will lose coverage),” he said.
Beneficiaries “who believe they may have been disenrolled in error” may appeal the decision, DOM said in its press release.
“If individuals were disenrolled because they did not respond or provide requested information, they can provide the information now and, if eligible, have their coverage reinstated Additional information is available at https://medicaid.ms.gov/staycovered/,” the press release says.
“Individuals who no longer qualify for Medicaid can access health care through other avenues, including employer-based insurance or on the federal health care marketplace. Information on marketplace plans is available at https://www.healthcare.gov/.”
Because Mississippi is one of 10 states whose leaders have refused billions in federal dollars to expand Medicaid, however, there is a gap between those who are eligible for Medicaid and those who are eligible for federal health insurance subsidies.
Without expansion, thousands of Mississippians who make too much for traditional Medicaid but not enough to qualify for insurance subsidies will have no affordable options. Experts have estimated that between 100,000 and 300,000 Mississippians would gain coverage if the state expanded its Medicaid program.
For more information or enrollment assistance, beneficiaries can contact the Mississippi Division of Medicaid at 800-421-2408.