Nearly two months ago, a pandemic-era policy meant to help low-income families maintain Medicaid coverage even if they did not provide the necessary reenrollment paperwork expired. Now we are starting to see the aftermath of this decision. According to a recent New York Times report, hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their health insurance, some of whom may still be eligible for coverage but failed to file paperwork. It also includes people who appear to have been unsubscribed for “procedural reasons.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, the policy was created under the First Coronavirus Response Act and helped reach 20.2 million new beneficiaries over two years. However, since the program expired at the end of March, states have begun revalidating Medicaid eligibility and requiring households to provide documentation to verify eligibility. The exact number of people who lost their insurance is unknown, but 19 states have already begun the process of removing people from their health insurance programs.
One of the earliest states to begin cutting insurance, Arkansas, has already stripped at least 73,000 people, including 27,000 children. Unlike other states, Arkansas aims to do this more quickly, planning to complete it in just six months instead of the one year allotted by President Biden. In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the process was necessary to “comply with the law and ensure resources are available for those who need them.”
However, other states such as Florida and Indiana have also canceled large numbers of people for simple procedural reasons, such as failure to provide proof of eligibility. The Times noted that many of those who lost their insurance were children.
It is crucial to note that the pandemic has already taken a significant toll on low-income families. With the sudden loss of Medicaid coverage, many may be unable to afford essential healthcare services, putting their health and wellbeing at risk.
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