The State Division of Medicaid dropped 16,659 Mississippians off its rolls in August, bringing the total to 68,626 disenrollments since June 1, a monthly report from DOM shows.
In March 2020, the federal government blocked state Medicaid divisions from disenrolling people, even those who became ineligible, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed the December 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law, requiring state Medicaid departments to restart eligibility determinations by April 1, 2023.
Since the DOM started unwinding on June 1, it has disenrolled about 68,626 people. DOM still has thousands more Mississippians on its roster than it did in March 2020; 716,896 were enrolled when the public health emergency began, and there were 814,786 beneficiaries in August 2023, enrollment data shows.
The August monthly report showed there were 29,788 beneficiaries “due for a renewal since the beginning of the state’s unwinding period.”
Bradley Corallo, a senior policy analyst at KFF, pointed to estimates that Medicaid would disenroll eight to 24 million Americans during the unwinding. Medicaid has already dropped over 7.5 million Americans as of Sept. 26.
“This represents the largest transition in health insurance (since the opening of the Affordable Care Act Marketplace in 2014),” he told the Mississippi Free Press on Aug. 29.
Adults may be disenrolled while their children remain enrolled and vice versa because Medicaid has different income requirements for children and adults, he said.
“It’s very much the case that the parents may be disenrolled during the unwinding, but the children are still eligible,” Corallo said. “And there’s definitely a lot of concern about that leading to kids actually losing coverage, too.”
“So, if a family receives a renewal packet and they see that the parents aren’t eligible, they incorrectly assume that everyone is ineligible, (and that) the family is ineligible. That may not be the case, and that’s definitely a big concern,” he continued.
Corallo said 80% of Mississippi’s Medicaid disenrollments were due to “procedural reasons,” meaning paperwork never made it to the Medicaid division or the beneficiary incorrectly filled out the application.
“Procedural reasons are basically getting caught up on paperwork reasons, and we don’t know whether you still qualify or not. You just didn’t meet all the procedures and paperwork requirements to renew your coverage,” he said.
That means many people who remain eligible could still lose their coverage over paperwork issues.
“Generally, high procedural disenrollments are very concerning for the reasons that you said, that could indicate eligible people losing coverage,” he said.
Corallo said many people may not know they were disenrolled until they visit the doctor or pharmacy and realize they lost coverage, which is “a big concern,” especially as children are heading back to school.
The national uninsured rate was at its lowest in the first quarter of 2023, January through March, with 7.7% of Americans lacking insurance, an Aug. 2 press release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows.
“With churn restarting, we’re expecting the uninsured rate to go up,” Corallo said. “The hope is that with people losing coverage during the unwinding, many are going to transition to employer-sponsored coverage.”
Beneficiaries who think their disenrollment was an error can make an appeal to the DOM.
“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 medicaid.ms.gov/staycovered,” a press release from the Mississippi Division of Medicaid 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 healthcare.gov.”