DHHS redoubles efforts as Michigan residents continue to lose Medicaid coverage ⋆

While 168,088 Michigan residents renewed Medicaid or Healthy Michigan plan coverage in October, more than 85,000 others did not, with Thursday the deadline to turn in their paperwork or face being disenrolled from the programs.

That’s according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which announced the latest renewal numbers Wednesday for those whose eligibility was up for redetermination in October.

Medicaid is the country’s public health insurance program that provides health coverage for about 85.2 million low-income adults, pregnant people and children nationwide. In Michigan, 3.1 million people – a little less than one-third of the state – are covered by public insurance.

More information

  • For those Michiganders no longer eligible for Medicaid, additional information will be provided to them about other affordable health coverage options that are available, including on HealthCare.gov, where they can shop for and enroll in other health insurance options, including some plans for less than $10 per month.
  • Additional information for Michigan Medicaid beneficiaries, including what they need to do to prepare for renewals, is available on the Medicaid Benefit Changes website

Medicaid enrollees in Michigan had not been required to reapply for coverage for three years after annual renewals were paused during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that changed when Congress late last year passed legislation that ended continuous enrollment on March 31. While some states began disenrolling people starting in April, Michigan did not resume disenrollments until June, with annual renewals being staggered to take place monthly through May 2024.

Despite that, the reapplication process is resulting in Michiganders, and Americans in general, losing Medicaid coverage either because their income is now too high to be eligible, or due to red tape, such as enrollees not sending the necessary paperwork or being unaware they need to reapply. 

Meanwhile, state officials say Medicaid renewal events hosted in partnership with The Salvation Army Great Lakes Harbor Light System have helped 1,500 Medicaid beneficiaries in Southeast Michigan with the renewal process.

“MDHHS is working to preserve health benefits for all qualifying residents and will continue to use every option available to achieve that outcome,” said DHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “We want to be sure that as many Michiganders as possible can continue to receive Medicaid coverage and appreciate the partnership of The Salvation Army and others in this effort.”

According to the DHHS’ online dashboard – which is updated monthly – 804,613 residents have been renewed to date, although as of Wednesday the department said it is awaiting completed enrollment forms from another 85,795 people who were up for renewal in October. They have until the end of November to return their paperwork. 

The dashboard indicates that 13,618 people were disenrolled in October because they were no longer eligible while another 2,806 were not renewed for procedural reasons – such as not providing requested verification documents like driver’s license, pay stubs and bank statements. However, they can be reinstated during a 90-day reconsideration period if DHHS subsequently finds they are eligible for Medicaid.  

As of Monday, Michigan ranked 21st with its Medicaid disenrollment rate of 37%, according to health policy researcher KFF. That’s up from 10% in July, when Michigan had the lowest rate. 

As a result of new flexibilities and strategies released by the federal government to state officials, DHHS says there are several other efforts to help lessen the impact of the resumption of Medicaid renewals. 

They include:

  • Extending the renewal date to May 2024 for beneficiaries undergoing life-saving treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy infusions or dialysis.
  • Allowing managed care plans to assist enrollees they serve in completing and submitting Medicaid renewal forms.
  • Sharing lists with managed care organizations of their enrollees who are due for renewal or have not responded to provide additional outreach to those beneficiaries.
  • Reinstating eligibility back to the termination date for people who were disenrolled based on a procedural reason – such as not returning reenrollment forms on time – and are subsequently found to be eligible for Medicaid during a 90-day reconsideration period. 
  • Providing beneficiaries an extra month to submit paperwork to help avoid loss of health care coverage.

DHHS will send monthly renewal notices four months before a beneficiary’s renewal date and follow up with text messages, phone calls, and emails during their renewal month, but advises all Medicaid enrollees to check their renewal month and renew online at Michigan.gov/MIBridges

DHHS will also assess a household’s eligibility for all Medicaid programs – not just for the programs in which someone is currently enrolled, and also for each family member in the household, so even if families believe they are no longer eligible for Medicaid, officials advise they return any renewal paperwork from the department.

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authored by Jon King
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2023%2F11%2F30%2Fdhhs-redoubles-efforts-as-michigan-residents-continue-to-lose-medicaid-coverage%2F

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