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More than 45,000 people lost Medicaid coverage in Connecticut in April and May

Doctor conducting ultrasound examination to a child in clinic 05 17, 2022.
megaflopp / Getty Images
Doctor conducting ultrasound examination to a child in clinic.

Two months following the end of a federal COVID-19 policy that allowed people to stay on Medicaid regardless of their income eligibility, 46,140 people in Connecticut lost their coverage in April and May. Datafrom the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) shows that the agency processed 177,264 renewals for Medicaid coverage.

“Connecticut's disenrollment rate of 26% is at the lower end of states that have so far reported disenrollment data during the unwinding period,” said Jennifer Tolbert, a Medicaid policy analyst at KFF. “And it is a little bit higher than our overall projections for disenrollment [in Connecticut] throughout the year. Our expectation is that state disenrollment rates may start a little higher and then drop as the months of the unwinding period progress.”

KFF is estimating that about 17 million people nationwide will lose their Medicaid coverage over the coming months. “We've estimated that [in] Connecticut, about 94,000 to 293,000 [people could lose coverage],” Tolbert said.

However, 87% of the people who were disenrolled lost their coverage due to what’s called procedural reasons. Procedural reasons include things like DSS not having their address and being unable to obtain it after repeated attempts. This puts Connecticut among states with the highest procedural disenrollment rates.

Unlike many other states, Connecticut provided data on disenrollments among children. In April, children represented over a third of total disenrollments. And, the disenrollment rate for children in April was 30%. Tolbert said that’s “a bit higher than the disenrollment rate for all groups (27%).” Over 9 in 10 of those disenrolled children were disenrolled for procedural reasons.

But it does not imply that those who lost their Medicaid coverage are all without health insurance. Some might have obtained coverage through their employer. Others might be able to move to the state’s private health care exchange Access Health CT. Connecticut also offers Transitional Medical Assistance and no-cost health insurance under Covered Connecticut.

Plans on Access Health CT 

People who no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage might be eligible for private plans on Access Health CT, the state’s insurance exchange.

But, rates are expected to go up.

The Connecticut Insurance Department has received double-digit rate hikes sought by nine health insurers for individual and small group plans on the exchange. The proposed average individual rate request ranges from 9.8% to 17.5%.

“These rates will be simply unaffordable for too many Connecticut families, individuals and businesses,” William Tong, Connecticut Attorney General, said in a statement. “We are thoroughly scrutinizing these filings and expect to play an active role in this process.”

The 30-day public comment period for all filings opened June 9. The public can share comments online.

What’s next 

Congress ended the continuous enrollment provision as of March 31, and phased out enhanced federal funding provided to states through Dec. 31, 2023. But in order to qualify for the enhanced federal funding, states will have to meet certain requirements related to how they process renewals, and show efforts made to retain coverage for people who remain eligible. In addition, states are required to follow up on returned mail before they terminate coverage, and must take steps to encourage people to update their contact information.

The DSS will be providing unwinding data on a monthly basis with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Plans are also in the works to create a public dashboard, like in Rhode Island.

“DSS is committed to making this transition as seamless and transparent as possible,” said Giovanni Pinto, a DSS spokesman.

Prior to the start of the official unwinding, the department launched its Update Us So We Can Update You media campaign to help ensure that Medicaid recipients receive correspondence about the return to original eligibility processes.

DSS has expanded hours at the call center it operates with Access Health CT; begun sending text messages to HUSKY Health households due for renewal; established an informational website; and developed data sharing with Medicaid providers to help expand the network of stakeholders who can connect with people due for renewal.

The agency is urging anyone due for a HUSKY renewal to contact DSS to see what they might qualify for – “there are more affordable options than ever before, and we can help you find the right coverage,” Pinto said.

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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