Children lost health coverage in ID's Medicaid unwinding process
Monday, November 27, 2023
Idaho acted quickly to remove people from Medicaid after special COVID-19 protections expired in April, including health coverage for tens of thousands of children.
In a process called Medicaid unwinding, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare determined more than 120,000 people were no longer eligible for the program.
Hillarie Hagen, health policy associate at Idaho Voices for Children, said many people were disenrolled from Medicaid for procedural reasons and the renewal process was unclear.
"The confusion around the renewal process often results in families not really finding out that their child has lost Medicaid until they show up at the doctor or when they go to the pharmacy to pick up a potentially lifesaving prescription or an asthma inhaler," Hagen explained.
During the first four months of Medicaid unwinding in Idaho, more than 20,000 children lost health coverage, according to Georgetown University data.
Hagen argued consistent health coverage is essential for healthy development, especially for young children.
"Even a very short lapse in health coverage for children can result in delayed care, unaddressed medical conditions like asthma," Hagen pointed out. "All it takes is one broken arm to put a family with low income in a financial crisis."
Hagen stressed policymakers should evaluate why so many children were disenrolled from Medicaid during this process.
"To see where the opportunities are to make improvements, to help make things easy to navigate for families so that children don't lose coverage unnecessarily if they're still eligible, or have gaps in coverage," Hagen urged.
Open enrollment through Your Health Idaho for health coverage in 2024 is open through Dec. 15.
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