As the COVID-19 pandemic’s grip begins to loosen, states across the U.S. have initiated a sweeping review of the nearly 90 million individuals enrolled in Medicaid. Unfortunately, this transition period has proven challenging, as hundreds of thousands lose their coverage, predominantly due to administrative hurdles rather than income ineligibility.
Shockingly, a recent KFF poll found that 65 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries were unaware of the risk of removal from the program. Joan Alker, a public policy researcher and the executive director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, expressed her deep concern, stating that the situation appears worse than expected in some regions.
Take Florida, for example, where almost a quarter of a million people lost their coverage in April. An overwhelming 82 percent of these cases were due to procedural issues. Distressingly, many children have been affected due to Florida’s limited Medicaid expansion.
Liz Adams’ family, based in Plant City, Florida, personifies this crisis. Liz’s children, including a son with multiple health issues following leukemia, suddenly found themselves uninsured, disrupting vital medical appointments and creating unnecessary stress.
However, the situation isn’t uniformly dire. States like Pennsylvania and Arizona are faring better, with only 10 percent and 17 percent of reviewed beneficiaries losing coverage, respectively.
As states navigate these choppy waters, Alker believes the federal government has a role to play. It has the power to mandate a pause on Medicaid disenrollment during these challenging times – a tool that may prove critical in preserving coverage for those who need it most.
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