NATIONAL NEWS

Biden administration urges states to slow down on dropping people from Medicaid

Jun 12, 2023, 1:34 PM

FILE - Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra speaks during a meeting with a task force...

FILE - Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra speaks during a meeting with a task force on reproductive health care access in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, April 12, 2023, in Washington. The Biden administration on Monday, June 12, urged states to slow down their purge of Medicaid rolls, citing concerns that large numbers of lower-income people are losing health care coverage because of administrative reasons. “I am deeply concerned with the number of people unnecessarily losing coverage, especially those who appear to have lost coverage for avoidable reasons that State Medicaid offices have the power to prevent or mitigate,” Becerra wrote in a letter Monday to governors. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Biden administration on Monday urged states to slow down their purge of Medicaid rolls, citing concerns that large numbers of lower-income people are losing health care coverage due to administrative reasons.

The nation’s Medicaid rolls swelled during the coronavirus pandemic as states were prohibited from ending people’s coverage. But that came to a halt in April, and states now must re-evaluate recipients’ eligibility — just as they had been regularly required to do before the pandemic.

In some states, about half of those whose Medicaid renewal cases were decided in April or May have lost their coverage, according to data submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and obtained by The Associated Press. The primary cause is what CMS describes as “procedural reasons,” such as the failure to return forms.

“I am deeply concerned with the number of people unnecessarily losing coverage, especially those who appear to have lost coverage for avoidable reasons that State Medicaid offices have the power to prevent or mitigate,” Health and Human Services Secretary Secretary Xavier Becerra wrote in a letter Monday to governors.

Instead of immediately dropping people who haven’t responded by a deadline, federal officials are encouraging state Medicaid agencies to delay procedural terminations for one month while conducting additional targeted outreach to Medicaid recipients. Among other things, they’re also encouraging states to allow providers of managed health care plans to help people submit Medicaid renewal forms.

Nobody “should lose coverage simply because they changed addresses, didn’t receive a form, or didn’t have enough information about the renewal process,” Becerra said in a statement.

States are moving at different paces to conduct Medicaid eligibility determinations. Some haven’t dropped anyone from their rolls yet while others already have removed tens of thousands of people.

Among 18 states that reported preliminary data to CMS, about 45% of those whose renewals were due in April kept their Medicaid coverage, about 31% lost coverage and about 24% were still being processed. Of those that lost coverage, 4-out-of-5 were for procedural reasons, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In Arkansas, Florida, Idaho and Oklahoma, about half or more of those whose eligibility cases were completed in April or May lost their Medicaid coverage, according data reviewed by the AP. Those figures may appear high because some states frontloaded the process, starting with people already deemed unlikely to remain eligible.

CMS officials have specifically highlighted concerns about Arkansas, which has dropped well over 100,000 Medicaid recipients, mostly for not returning renewal forms or requested information.

Arkansas officials said they are following a timeline under a 2021 law that requires the state to complete its redeterminations within six months of the end of the public health emergency. They said Medicaid recipients receive multiple notices — as well as texts, emails and phone calls, when possible — before being dropped. Some people probably don’t respond because they know they are no longer eligible, the state Department of Human Services said.

Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has dismissed criticism of the state’s redetermination process, saying Arkansas is merely getting the program back to its pre-pandemic coverage intentions.

But health care advocates said it’s particularly concerning when states have large numbers of people removed from Medicaid for not responding to re-enrollment notices.

“People who are procedurally disenrolled often are not going to realize they’ve lost coverage until they show up for a medical appointment or they go to fill their prescription and are told you no longer have insurance coverage,” said Allie Gardner, a senior research associate at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

__

Associated Press writer Andrew DeMillo contributed from Little Rock, Arkansas.

National News

Associated Press

Bernice Johnson Reagon, whose powerful voice helped propel the Civil Rights Movement, has died

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Bernice Johnson Reagon, a musician and scholar who used her rich, powerful contralto voice in the service of the American Civil Rights Movement and human rights struggles around the world, died on July 16, according to her daughter’s social media post. She was 81. Reagon was probably best known as the […]

25 minutes ago

ADD MORE LOCATIONS FILE - An envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident is ...

Associated Press

US census takers to conduct test runs in the South and West 4 years before 2030 count

Six places in the South and West will host practice runs four years prior to the 2030 U.S. census, a nationwide head count that helps determine political power and the distribution of federal funds. Residents of western Texas; tribal lands in Arizona; Colorado Springs, Colorado; western North Carolina; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Huntsville, Alabama, will […]

30 minutes ago

Vice President Kamala Harris arrives to speak from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington,...

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: A look at false claims around Kamala Harris and her campaign for the White House

The announcement that Vice President Kamala Harris will seek the Democratic nomination for president is inspiring a wave of false claims about her eligibility and her background. Some first emerged years ago, while others only surfaced after President Joe Biden’s decision to end his bid for a second term. Here’s a look at the facts. […]

31 minutes ago

Vice President Kamala Harris walks back into the White House after speaking from the South Lawn of ...

Associated Press

Kamala Harris smashes fundraising record with stunning $81 million haul over 24 hours

NEW YORK (AP) — Kamala Harris is smashing fundraising records as the Democratic Party’s donors — big and small — open their wallets for the vice president in the immediate aftermath of President Joe Biden’s stunning decision to step aside. In total, Harris’ team raised more than $81 million in the 24-hour period since Biden’s […]

34 minutes ago

FILE - Emergency personnel arrive to evacuate people at a mass shelter, Sept. 2, 2021, in Independe...

Associated Press

No prison for a nursing home owner who sent 800 residents to ride out a hurricane in squalor

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana businessman who sent more than 800 elderly residents from his seven nursing homes to ride out Hurricane Ida in a crowded, ill-equipped warehouse pleaded no contest to 15 criminal counts Monday and was sentenced to three years of probation. Bob Dean Jr. also must pay more than $358,000 in […]

40 minutes ago

Associated Press

New Orleans civil rights icon Tessie Prevost dead at 69

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Funeral services will be held Saturday for one of four Black girls who helped integrate New Orleans public schools in 1960. Tessie Prevost Williams, known as one of the “New Orleans Four,” died July 6 following a series of medical complications. She was 69. On Nov. 14, 1960, Prevost Williams, along […]

1 hour ago

Biden administration urges states to slow down on dropping people from Medicaid