More than 100,000 Michiganders may lose their health coverage after July 31 if they do notreturn re-enrollment paperwork by that time, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Monday.
And that is just the first wave of residents who may lose coverage as recipients are once again required to prove program eligibility. With state Medicaid rolls rising above 3 million during the pandemic — roughly 3 in 10 Michiganders — many more residents could lose benefits if they do not fill out the required paperwork as it becomes due in the months ahead.
As of Thursday, the state had renewed Medicaid or Healthy Michigan plan coverage for 103,540 people, including 30,456 renewals for enrollees who submitted their paperwork and 73,084 for people who were “passively” renewed because MDHHS said it could confirm their eligibility through other paperwork on file with the state.
Another 6,935 people were determined to be no longer eligible because, among other reasons, their income has increased or their cases were closed because they lacked proof of updated income.
That meant the department was awaiting completed enrollment forms from 100,161 people — all of whom stand to lose coverage by the end of July if they don’t submit paperwork by that time, the state said. The number of people in peril is limited for now because the state is staggering the Medicaid renewal process through May of next year.
Consumer advocates had warned that people would be disenrolled; not necessarily because they were ineligible, but because they didn’t return the proper paperwork. In fact, the health care research organization KFF estimates that more than 1.6 million Medicaid enrollees across the U.S. have been disenrolled as of Wednesday, based on the most current data from 28 states and the District of Columbia.
For the first time in more than three years, Michiganders enrolled in Medicaid programs, including the Healthy Michigan Plan, must prove they’re eligible to remain on Medicaid. That annual “redetermination” was paused in 2020 under a special COVID-era rule that allowed people to stay on Michigan’s Medicaid programs during the disruption of COVID-19, including the MI Child and Healthy Michigan Plan, without continuing to have to prove that they’re eligible.
The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act offered a 6.5 percent increase in matching funds to states that agreed to stop bumping people out of Medicaid coverage for the duration of the public health emergency. For more than two years, that action essentially halted the churn of people in and out of Medicaid programs and that kept enrollment fairly stable.
The more than 700,000 people who enrolled in Medicaid during the pandemic expanded the programs to more than 3 million Michiganders, the largest enrollment ever. Those additional beneficiaries cost more than $50 million a month, according to a December analysis by the Michigan House Fiscal Agency.
Michigan has chosen to stagger its renewal efforts, with beneficiaries’ notices to be sent out on the same month they first enrolled in Medicaid.
The first re-enrollment documents were sent out this spring, so that the first beneficiaries faced the end of their coverage on June 30 unless they were able to prove their eligibility. That deadline was extended so that coverage will remain in place until July 31.
“While we’re happy that many Michiganders have maintained coverage, we want to emphasize how important it is for people who receive re-enrollment packets to fill out their information and return it promptly,” Meghan Groen, MDHHS senior deputy director for the Behavioral and Physical Health and Aging Services Administration and Medicaid director, said in a news release Monday.
“The department will continue to do all we can to reach people who have not responded so that they can keep their coverage if they remain eligible.”
Also Monday, the department unveiled an online dashboard that tracks the renewal process for Medicaid coverage,
The dashboard shows current data on renewals for June, which will change as the department processes additional forms. MDHHS has until the end of July to receive renewal forms from the June cohort and determine eligibility.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offers these services to help Medicaid beneficiaries keep their coverage if eligible:
- Be sure to fill out and return your renewal packet by its due date, even if you feel you have lost eligibility. Other members of the household — a child, for example — may still be eligible.
- Find more information about the process of eligibility review and about alternate options to Medicaid at two new websites by MDHHS and DIFS to provide information about alternative health insurance options.
- Update address, phone number and email addresses at www.michigan.gov/MIBridges or through a local MDHHS office. Those without an online account for MI Bridges can set one up through www.michigan.gov/MIBridges or with help from a community center assisting in the process.
- For more information about Medicaid eligibility renewals, visit Michigan.gov/2023BenefitChanges. For more information about coverage options for those losing Medicaid coverage, visit Michigan.gov/StayCovered or call the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services at 877-999-6442, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.