Over 80,000 Michigan residents lost Medicaid benefits in first month
- More than 80,000 Michigan residents were dropped from Medicaid in the first monthly review of people seeking to re-enroll
- Most were dropped because they didn’t fill out and return forms showing proof of eligibility to continue to receive coverage
- The review will continue for 11 more months with perhaps a million people dropped from the 3 million now receiving benefits
More than 80,500 Michigan residents lost Medicaid coverage in the first full monthly accounting of Medicaid re-enrollment efforts in the state, which amounts to 37 percent of those scheduled to re-enroll in June, according to the latest data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The vast majority of those falling off the rolls — 65,400 — lost coverage because they didn’t receive or fill out and return forms to the state to maintain eligibility for the health insurance, according to the state. (The other roughly 15,000 were dropped because they no longer met the income or asset eligibility requirements for Medicaid.)
The numbers underscore the fears of health officials and advocates for vulnerable populations that many people who otherwise qualified for Medicaid would be left off the rolls due to paperwork lapses following the end of the COVID pandemic emergency period.
More than 3 million Michigan residents are now in Healthy Michigan or other Medicaid plans, with enrollment bolstered during the more lenient treatment of applicants during the pandemic. With the recent end of the health emergency, Michigan and other states are required this year to review qualifications of Medicaid beneficiaries, assessing their eligibility over a 12-month period. That process began with those having to complete their re-enrollment forms in June, and extending through May of next year.
That 37 percent of that first month’s cohort were knocked off Medicaid rolls suggests that perhaps a million or more of the state’s 3-million-plus beneficiaries will lose coverage over the next year.
State officials have extended deadlines for those required to re-enroll in June. And on Tuesday, they said that they will do so again, giving those with June deadlines another month to fill in and return the necessary forms. If they do so, they will be re-enrolled and their benefits will be restored retroactively — with any medical bills incurred during that time covered once their benefits are re-activated.
“Anybody that's currently in the Michigan Medicaid program would be given that additional month,“ said Meghan Groen, who leads the state’s Medicaid programs covering physical and behavioral health for MDHHS.
“We were really happy with that flexibility. We saw it really worked well.”
- Michigan’s Medicaid ballooned during COVID. It’s about to be pared back.
- More than 100K Michiganders may lose Medicaid by end of month
- Thousands on Michigan Medicaid will keep coverage for at least another month
During the pandemic, Michigan Medicaid enrollment skyrocketed to more than 3 million residents after the annual “redetermination” of benefits was paused in 2020 under a special COVID-era rule which allowed people to stay on the state’s Medicaid programs during the pandemic, without proving eligibility.
That rule also applied to the MI Child and Healthy Michigan Plan.
The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act offered a 6.5 percent increase in matching funds to states that agreed to stop booting people out of Medicaid coverage for the remainder of the pandemic. The act slowed the number of people in and out of Medicaid programs and that kept enrollment fairly stable.
Now that the state has begun the process of determining eligibility, the first time they’ve done so in three years, Michigan residents must keep a careful eye on their mail and be sure to return eligibility paperwork by the due date.
Michigan has staggered its renewal process, so beneficiaries’ notices will be sent out on the same month they first enrolled in Medicaid. The first re-enrollment documents were sent out in the spring.
“We continue to reach out through a variety of strategies and channels with the steps that beneficiaries can take to be prepared for their upcoming renewals,” Lynn Sutfin, an MDHHS spokesperson, said in an email.
The state last month unveiled a dashboard, which will be updated every month, so the public can track its efforts.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offers these tips and services to help Medicaid beneficiaries keep their coverage if eligible:
- Be sure to fill out and return your renewal packet by its due date, even if you feel you have lost eligibility. Other members of the household — a child, for example — may still be eligible.
- Find more information about the process of eligibility review and about alternate options to Medicaid at two new websites by MDHHS and DIFS to provide information about alternative health insurance options.
- Update address, phone number and email addresses at www.michigan.gov/MIBridges or through a local MDHHS office. Those without an online account for MI Bridges can set one up through www.michigan.gov/MIBridges or with help from a community center assisting in the process.
- For more information about Medicaid eligibility renewals, visit Michigan.gov/2023BenefitChanges. For more information about coverage options for those losing Medicaid coverage, visit Michigan.gov/StayCovered or call the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services at 877-999-6442, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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