One of the many results of the COVID-19 pandemic is that millions of Americans gained Medicaid coverage. And now, millions are likely to lose it.
A provision of the massive $1.7 trillion spending bill passed by Congress in late December allows states to take away Medicaid coverage from 15 to 18 million people—or about 1 in 5 people currently in the program—according to Kaiser Family Foundation estimates.
Under the normal Medicaid process called redetermination, people who were enrolled in Medicaid are required to reapply every 12 months to confirm their eligibility. Medicaid recipients who report changes in their income or household could be deemed ineligible for benefits from this health insurance program.
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, the reapplication process was suspended, and states were prohibited from booting recipients off Medicaid. This new legislation ends that restriction.
Redetermination letters will be sent to an estimated 700,000 Illinois Medicaid recipients in waves over the next 12 months. How many of these recipients will lose their coverage is not clear. The Illinois Department of Health and Family Services (IDHFS) in a news release earlier this year estimated that 384,000 individuals were likely to lose coverage, but acknowledged that “nobody knows for sure” how many people could be affected.
This could affect some of our clients at Nash Disability Law across the Chicago area, who our disability lawyers have helped to secure disability benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which also comes with Medicaid eligibility.
Before states cancel Medicaid coverage, they are required to check patients’ eligibility and notify them if they’re losing coverage. However, health care advocates have raised concerns that some people will “fall through the cracks.”
Medicaid serves some of the nation’s poorest people, and many may not learn their health insurance has been cancelled because they don’t have internet access or a stable home address.
If you are a Medicaid recipient, we urge you to make sure your contact information is up to date on your account and that you check the mail frequently to keep an eye on your eligibility status.
In a press release, IDHFS said: “The most important thing Medicaid customers can do right now is to ensure their current address is on file with the Illinois Medicaid program. This is critical because the time-sensitive redetermination materials will be mailed to customers as their renewal date approaches. Customers may be required to supply HFS with additional information needed to establish their eligibility.
Customers can renew through the Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE) website by visiting abe.illinois.gov and clicking on “Manage My Case” to set up their online account.
Once there, customers should:
Customers can also call 1-800-843-6154 for help with their renewal.