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Thousands in Connecticut are expected to lose Medicaid coverage unless they act soon

A general view of Home Care Workers Urge Congress To Finish The Job, Protect Medicaid, And Invest In Care rally at Union Square on May 05, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Brian Stukes
A general view of a rally in Washington, D.C., that called on Congress to protect Medicaid and invest in care on May 5, 2022.

A COVID-19 change to Medicaid eligibility is scheduled to roll back March 31, bringing the return of the redetermination process for approximately 430,000 Connecticut residents currently on Medicaid extension for continuous enrollment.

Thousands of people are expected to lose coverage unless they act soon, by notifying the Department of Social Services (DSS) of change of address, if any. Beneficiaries must respond with updated information when individually notified by the DSS over the course of a full year.

A federal policy change during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed states to temporarily suspend redetermination, or the regular renewal process in which Medicaid recipients reconfirm, or redetermined, that they are still eligible for Medicaid benefits. Instead, agencies continued to provide coverage regardless of eligibility.

Now the DSS is projecting that the number of people who cannot be “passively” determined as eligible for continued Medicaid coverage will be roughly 9% higher than the most recent one-year period (February 2022 to January 2023).

If the passive (computerized) renewal fails, a manual renewal is required.

Jennifer Marsocci of the DSS explained the next steps at a Jan. 24 informational session at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Beneficiaries will be given a date “in which they have to [manually] reply in order to renew their coverage. And it encourages them to provide that information early so that there’s no gap in coverage,” she said.

Individuals who previously were covered under the expanded provision of Medicaid but no longer qualify may be eligible for Transitional Medical Assistance, Covered CT or a health plan through Access Health CT.

But the real concern is people losing Medicaid even when they are eligible because they miss the redetermination process, said Jennifer Tolbert, a Medicaid policy analyst at Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

“So the key is for states to try and minimize the number of people who remain eligible but lose coverage for procedural reasons,” she said.

That would require updating the addresses of Medicaid beneficiaries so that they can receive the notification. The DSS has an “Update Us, so we can Update U” ad campaign in New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport — cities with the highest concentration of Medicaid beneficiaries.

If the renewal is not completed or the individual is determined to be ineligible for Medicaid, coverage will be closed at the end of the month in which their enrollment period ends. For example, if an individual’s renewal is due in June 2023, and they are determined ineligible for Medicaid, their coverage will close June 30, 2023.

At the start of the pandemic, Congress enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which included a provision that required states to maintain Medicaid enrollment for individuals on the program regardless of whether they had changes in circumstances that might make them ineligible. And that policy has been in place since March of 2020.

That Medicaid continuous coverage requirement is no longer tied to the end date of the public health emergency, and the continuous enrollment requirements will end March 31.

Beginning April 1, states will be allowed to resume unenrolling people from the program who are no longer eligible for Medicaid coverage or who do not complete the renewal process.

Courts halt termination of Medicaid benefits for some low-income and disabled individuals

The Trump administration terminated Medicaid benefits for some low-income and disabled individuals, but a federal district court judge in Connecticut has ruled that the Biden administration must stop the enforcement of the policy.

Individuals on Medicaid coverage who turned 65 and were then enrolled in the Medicare Savings Program still have partial Medicaid coverage. But for people with disabilities, that could mean losing access to services they needed if those services were covered by Medicaid but not covered by Medicare.

“This decision means thousands of people in Connecticut, and more across the country, will regain full Medicaid coverage and access to needed supportive services and other benefits,” said Tolbert of KFF.

She emphasized that this ruling will only affect some people who are currently on Medicaid.

“While these individuals will regain full Medicaid coverage, it is unclear for how long,” she said. “Starting April 1 and continuing for the next 12 months, states will redetermine eligibility for all Medicaid enrollees, and some of these individuals may once again lose access to full Medicaid benefits.”

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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