Changes called for with Medicaid

The federal government has called for Minnesota and 28 other states to make changes to an auto-renewal process used for evaluating […]

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The federal government has called for Minnesota and 28 other states to make changes to an auto-renewal process used for evaluating eligibility across households, rather than for each individual in a home. Minnesota is restoring health insurance coverage for 12,745 residents, including many children, as the state revisits eligibility for Medicaid beneficiaries. 

That approach was a problem because some in households — particularly children — might qualify for Medicaid benefits when their parents don’t, a circumstance that was blocking auto-renewals. 

Without an auto-renewal, people in Minnesota must re-establish eligibility through a paperwork process that can be difficult for individuals to navigate and for the state and counties to administer. As renewals weren’t getting done across the 29 states, many people were losing benefits even though they likely still qualified. 

“We now know that 12,745 people whose coverage will be restored by the end of November,” said Julie Marquardt, director of health care purchasing and service delivery at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), in an interview. “The vast majority are children.” 

The state has implemented fixes to restore coverage and prevent a recurrence of the problem going forward, said Jodi Harpstead, the DHS commissioner. 

States this year have been resuming coverage redeterminations in Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for lower-income people and many with disabilities. The renewals, where the government checks to make sure people are still eligible for benefits, were suspended during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

Medicaid enrollment in Minnesota grew by more than 360,000 people during this time period. The program provides coverage for about 1.5 million state residents. 

Redeterminations in Minnesota started in July and will continue for about a year. 

Between July and September, the household-based auto-renewals process led to about 104,600 people losing coverage through procedural disenrollments, where required paperwork wasn’t returned or processed. As a result, the state’s action means just over 10 percent of this group will see their benefits restored by the end of November. 

Patient advocates are analyzing procedural disenrollment totals in different states to assess how well they’re handling the renewals process, a massive undertaking that’s generally referred to as the Medicaid “unwinding.” 

(Source: Star Tribune)

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