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COVID-19 in Maryland Government & Politics Health Care

As thousands lose Medicaid coverage, health officials working on solutions to keep people enrolled

The Maryland Department of Health is reevaluating the eligibility of 1.8 million Marylanders on Medicaid in a phased process after a COVID-era policy that didn’t require annual reenrollment expired. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

As new data report some 28,000 low-income Marylanders have been disenrolled from Medicaid in June alone and are losing out on federal health coverage, state health officials are looking for ways to make the administrative process for redetermination easier to ensure eligible people do not lose coverage.

The Maryland Department of Health has requested more than a dozen federal waivers to temporarily reduce administrative hurdles during a period often referred to as Medicaid unwinding.

The health department had already received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for 13 waivers, and is awaiting approval for two.

“By implementing new plans and actions, we strive to make the redetermination process as accessible and efficient as possible,” Deputy Secretary of Health Care Financing and Medicaid Director Ryan Moran said in a written statement.

At issue is the termination of COVID-era federal health policy that prohibited states from rolling people off of Medicaid, a federal program for low-income individuals and families to receive health insurance funded by federal and state dollars. People did not have to annually reenroll to keep their health coverage during the global health crisis.

But this year, Medicaid renewal is not automatic, and Maryland health officials worry that people may not know that they have to reenroll. Earlier this year, state health officials launched the “Medicaid Check-in” campaign in an effort to remind residents to reenroll before they lose coverage.

“We continue to encourage Maryland Medicaid beneficiaries to check in and make sure that their information is up to date to receive important updates about renewal,” Secretary of Health Dr. Laura Herrera Scott said in a written statement.

The Maryland Department of Health is reevaluating the eligibility of 1.8 million Marylanders on Medicaid in a phased process. The first round of renewals were due in April, and each month a new cohort of renewals are considered for reevaluation.

From April through June, more than 345,000 Marylanders were up for reevaluations. Disenrollments began in May, and a total of 63,369 people have been rolled off of Medicaid, according to new July data from the Department of Health.

Of those who have been rolled off, some 41,700 Marylanders have been disenrolled due to procedural reasons, including situations where an application was never submitted or the application for renewal was started and not finished. That’s about 66% of total disenrollments, according to the new data.

The remaining disenrollments were due to age-related reasons or financial reasons, meaning an individual now receives a salary high enough to disqualify them from the low-income focused health coverage program.

Those who fall off of Medicaid and still need health coverage are recommended to seek new coverage through Maryland Health Connection, the state’s health insurance marketplace.

The waivers sought by the health department cover a wide range of strategies to decrease the number of eligible individuals unnecessarily disenrolled due to procedural reasons, among other concerns.

One waiver that the federal government approved allows the state to presume that there is no change in income for Marylanders with Medicaid who were verified within the last 12 months to have an income at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level. This means that the department can “complete an ex parte renewal without requesting additional income information or documentation,” according to the department’s website.

Another approved waiver allows the state to extend a suspension of premiums for certain low-income populations. Some working Marylanders who have disabilities will have their premiums suspended through Dec. 31. Premiums for some children of low-income families will be suspended through April 30, 2024.

About 70.5% of Marylanders who were reevaluated in June retained Medicaid coverage.

For the renewals that were due at the end of June, there were 139,051 people up for Medicaid reevaluation. Of those people, 98,630 applications were determined eligible to continue Medicaid coverage.

But there were also 28,694 Marylanders who were disenrolled in June. Of the June disenrollments, 17,075, or 59.5%, were disenrolled for procedural reasons.

As of the July data, 7,632 June applications are still being processed and eligibility has not been determined.


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As thousands lose Medicaid coverage, health officials working on solutions to keep people enrolled