Millions could be pulled from Medicaid in 2023

Proponents have raised concerns about how states will notify participants if they are kicked out of the program and what their options are.

WASHINGTON — Millions of people who have enrolled in Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic could be at risk on May 1 $1.7 trillion spending package approved by Congress.

The legislation will suspend a requirement of the COVID-19 public health emergency that prohibited states from releasing people from Medicaid. The Biden administration was under increasing pressure to declare the public health emergency over. Twenty-five Republican governors urged the president to end it in a letter Monday, citing growing concerns about bloated Medicaid enrollment.

“This is positive for states in terms of planning, but it will come at the cost of some people losing their healthcare,” said Massey Whorley, director of healthcare consultancy Avalere.

Millions are expected to be squeezed out of the program, which provides health insurance to nearly 80 million low-income people across the country. The federal government will also tap into additional funding made available to states for the additional enrollments as part of the proposal next year.

Many are eligible for health insurance coverage through employers, the Affordable Care Act, or, in the case of children, the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Proponents have raised concerns about how states will notify participants if they are kicked out of the program and what their options are. The effort will be particularly challenging for some of the country’s poorest people, who may not have a fixed address or access to internet or phone services to check their status. If the spending package is passed, the spending package would allow states to kick people out of the program as early as April, but they must notify enrollers first.

People on Medicaid should ensure their contact information on their accounts is up to date, and that they check email frequently to keep track of their entitlement status as the April 1st date approaches, said Robin Rudowitz, the director of Medicaid at Kaiser Family Foundation.

“There will probably be people who fall through the cracks,” she said.

However, the move will free up additional funds to pay for more stable health insurance coverage for children in low-income households by requiring states to keep those children on Medicaid for at least a year after they enroll. However, a push to require states to extend Medicaid to new mothers for a 12-month period after childbirth was thwarted by the cut. The District of Columbia and 27 states are currently extending coverage for a 12-month period to postpartum mothers.

The spending package also expands on the flexibility of telemedicine, which was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting healthcare systems across the country to revamp their approach to more frequently deliver care via smartphone or computer.

Under the bill, the restrictions that once tightly regulated telehealth care under Medicare will be relaxed by the end of 2024.

That will give Congress more time to study telemedicine and examine how widespread fraud is in the program, said Andrew Hu of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank that has been studying the use of telemedicine during the pandemic.

“We can buy a little more time to assess where the benefits of telemedicine lie,” Hu said. Millions could be pulled from Medicaid in 2023

Laura Coffey

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