A bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week aims to alleviate staffing shortages at state Medicaid agencies and ensure beneficiaries aren’t disenrolled from coverage due to staffing problems or procedural reasons.
This comes as the U.S. began unwinding the Medicaid continuous enrollment provision on April 1. The provision banned states from disenrolling Medicaid beneficiaries during the Covid-19 public health emergency, and states received enhanced federal funding in exchange. Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment grew to nearly 95 million beneficiaries by the end of March because of the provision. During the unwinding period, Medicaid enrollees will have to return to the usual Medicaid redetermination process, in which states have to determine if enrollees are still eligible for coverage.
The Medicaid Staffing Flexibility and Protection Act was introduced by Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Georgia) and Representative Neal Dunn (R-Florida). It would allow state Medicaid agencies to hire outside contractors to help with Medicaid redeterminations, as many agencies don’t have the workforce to handle the return to the redetermination process.
“As states work diligently to protect taxpayer dollars and maintain the integrity of their Medicaid programs, it is important that they have the options they need to efficiently execute the redetermination process,” Dunn said in a news release. “The Medicaid Staffing Flexibility and Protection Act will give states the freedom to contract out certain services related to the necessary redetermination process to private partners if they choose to. States may choose to do so due to workforce shortages which are being felt acutely across the nation.”
Carter echoed Dunn and said that the bill will hopefully reduce the number of people removed from coverage because of staffing shortages.
“This common-sense solution allows states to meet their obligations to Medicaid and CHIP enrollees,” Carter said in a statement. “I’ve heard from Georgians who are concerned that their family will lose access to necessary, life-saving care, for no reason other than workforce and staffing challenges. This bill will equip states with the tools they need to review these applications and give beneficiaries the coverage and peace of mind they need.”
As of Monday, nearly 4.6 million people have been disenrolled from Medicaid coverage based on available data from 44 states and the District of Columbia, according to KFF. Disenrollment rates vary by state, ranging from 72% of total completed renewals in Texas to 8% in Wyoming.
About 75% of the people disenrolled from Medicaid coverage were removed because of procedural reasons, like states having outdated contact information or members not completing renewal packets by a certain deadline, KFF reported. Many of these people disenrolled for procedural issues are likely still eligible for Medicaid. Procedural disenrollment rates also vary widely by state, ranging from 97% of total disenrollments in New Mexico to 17% in Michigan.
A recent survey found that more than a third of Medicaid beneficiaries say their health plan hasn’t contacted them about renewing coverage.
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