About 500,000 people, many of them children, will remain covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program after state officials discovered serious flaws in the program’s eligibility screening process, federal officials announced Thursday. did.
After a pandemic-era policy guaranteeing Medicaid coverage expired in April, states began determining whether the tens of millions of Americans covered by the program were still eligible, and their incomes fell below the program’s limits. Cases exceeding the above were excluded from the list.
Many states conducted tests using government databases to verify income levels and software that automatically checks whether people are still eligible. But federal officials confirmed Thursday that 30 states incorrectly reviewed the status.
As a result, many children lost health insurance because their parents did not return the necessary documents to verify eligibility for all members of the household. The Biden administration alerted states to the issue last month and gave them two weeks to report whether they were unfairly disenrolling residents.
“This will help strengthen access to Medicaid not only during this very difficult renewal transition period, but also in the long term,” Medicare and Medicaid Director Chiquita Brooks LaSure told reporters Thursday. He said this at a press conference.
Repealing Medicaid coverage had devastating consequences for poor families and children across the country. More than 7 million people have lost coverage under the program since the requirement ended in April. According to condition data analyzed by KFFa nonprofit health policy research group.
In states that publish enrollment numbers by age group, nearly 1.4 million children have lost coverage. Children have more lenient eligibility limits for Medicaid enrollment, giving them more leeway to remain on the roster.
It’s still unclear how many children lost coverage due to technical errors. Daniel Tsai, a senior Medicaid official, said at a Thursday briefing that a “significant portion” of the roughly 500,000 Americans who maintain health insurance are likely enrolled.
He said states are still reviewing data on who wrongly loses insurance.
The Biden administration had ordered states that discovered errors to halt the so-called disenrollment process, which occurs when a recipient loses eligibility without verifying eligibility with the state’s Medicaid agency.
Tsai said some states have quickly resolved the issue and could soon resume eligibility testing. ” He said.
Other states could take months to make amendments and restart admissions decisions, Tsai added.
In many of the 30 states identified Thursday, fewer than 10,000 people were affected by the technical error, according to a spreadsheet federal officials shared with reporters. But in Pennsylvania and Nevada, more than 100,000 people were affected in each state.
Nevada Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Krystle Mussel said in a statement that about 114,000 people had their Medicaid coverage regained after state officials learned of the mistaken disenrollment.
“Procedural denials have been suspended while the state of Nevada works to harden its computer systems,” she said.
The state numbers released Thursday are estimates, meaning many more children may have been affected by improper eligibility testing than is currently known. Some states that have acknowledged that the tests were administered in error are still assessing the number of people affected, with suggestions that the total could be well over 500,000. .
“The scope of this problem is broad,” said Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.
Still, she noted that the numbers cited by the Biden administration Thursday exclude children who may have unfairly lost coverage in other ways. “This is not the only problem we have,” Alker said.
He noted that in Texas, where officials only use automatic renewal sparingly, many children are losing coverage due to flaws in the enrollment process that the state has yet to correct. To date, nearly 900,000 Texans have lost coverage through this process, about 80% of whom are children, according to KFF.