AR Sees Medicaid Coverage Loss in Redetermination Process
Friday, July 7, 2023
In Arkansas, thousands of people have lost Medicaid coverage since April, as states recheck everyone's eligibility, a process known as "unwinding."
The federal policy prohibiting states from removing people from Medicaid during the pandemic has ended. In April, 72,000 people were disenrolled from Medicaid in Arkansas, and another 68,000 in May.
Gavin Lesnick, chief of Communications for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, said they have been preparing for this process for more than a year, and sending notices to Medicaid enrollees requesting current information to determine their eligibility.
"Then we take that into our system and we confirm eligibility and for those who are still eligible, they will keep their coverage," Lesnick explained. "And for those who are no longer eligible for Medicaid, we do offer them information about other ways to get health care coverage, such as through an employer-sponsored plan or through the federal health insurance marketplace."
Lesnick pointed out they began the outreach process last spring, urging people to make sure Medicaid had their updated information. He added the department confirmed or updated addresses for more than 170,000 Medicaid enrollees.
Arkansas' Medicaid rolls increased by more than 230,000 people during the pandemic. Lesnick acknowledged the importance of the program, whether people have chronic health conditions or do not make enough money to afford private health insurance. He urged people to visit www.ar.gov/renew, which he called the state's "one-stop shop" for information about the redetermination process.
"There's different ways that you qualify, and there's many different programs under the Medicaid umbrella," Lesnick noted. "But certainly, it is an important service that our beneficiaries rely on. And that's why it's so important that we go through this process, to make sure that the Medicaid resources that are out there are available for the folks who truly need them."
Marcus Robinson, president of individual and family plan markets at UnitedHealthcare, agreed people need to have continuing coverage and to maintain a relationship with their physician, to stay on track for preventive care and critical screenings, for themselves and their family.
"Maintaining coverage is important to prevent against missed opportunities of managing chronic conditions," Robinson emphasized. "Maybe there is an emerging illness or emerging condition that you can catch early on, and really get on a path to better health."
Robinson added some might have options for coverage through a circumstance considered a "qualifying life event," which makes someone eligible for a coverage change outside a yearly defined-enrollment period. Such events might be a sudden loss of employment, change in marital status or having a baby.
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