Millions of people who signed up for Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic could begin losing their coverage on April 1 if Congress passes the $1.7 trillion spending package leaders unveiled Tuesday.
The legislation would overturn a requirement of the COVID-19 public health emergency that prevents states from opting out of Medicaid. Pressure is mounting on the Biden administration to declare an end to the public health emergency, with 25 Republican governors asking the president to end it in a letter on Monday, citing growing concerns about Medicaid enrollment.
“It’s a positive for the states in terms of planning, although it will come at the cost of some people losing health care,” said Maisie Whorley, director of the health consulting firm Evalere.
Millions are expected to be eliminated from the program, which provides health coverage to some 80 million low-income people nationwide. The federal government would also reduce additional funding to states for additional enrollees next year under the proposal.
Many employers will be eligible for health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, or in the case of children, the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Advocates have raised concerns about how states will notify enrollees and what their options are if they are pulled from the program.
The effort will be especially challenging for some of the country’s poorest people, who may not have stable residential addresses or access to internet or phone services to verify their status. If approved, the spending package would allow states to kick people out of the program starting in April, but would require them to notify enrollees first.
People with Medicaid should make sure their contact information is up-to-date on their accounts and check their mail frequently for their eligibility status as the April 1 date approaches, said Robin Rudowitz, director of Medicaid at Kaiser. Said. Family Foundation.
“It is likely that there are people who have been forgotten,” he said.
While the measure would free up additional funds to pay for more stable health insurance coverage for children in low-income families, states would require those children to be kept on Medicaid for at least one year after enrollment. However, one push is to require states to expand Medicaid to new moms for a period of 12 months after giving birth. The District of Columbia and 27 states currently extend coverage for postpartum mothers for a period of 12 months.
The spending package also expands telehealth flexibilities that were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic and prompts health care systems across the country to modify their approaches to provide care more often via smartphone or computer .
Andrew Hu of the Bipartisan Policy Center said that under the proposal, restrictions on telehealth care once strictly governed under Medicare would be relaxed through the end of 2024. A Washington think tank that has studied the use of telehealth during the pandemic.
“We may have more time to assess where the benefits are with telehealth,” Hu said. The Senate is expected to vote first on the spending bill, and Democrats are seeking the support of at least 10 Republican senators to pass the measure before sending it to the House for consideration.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said Wednesday that pharmacies that receive federal resources from programs such as Medicare and Medicaid cannot discriminate in the way they dispense drugs or counsel patients on prescriptions. Huh.