Uninsured rate hits record low, just as millions start losing Medicaid coverage
(The Hill) — An all-time low of 7.7 percent of Americans had no health insurance in the first three months of 2023, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But that number, which still translates to more than 25 million people, is likely already higher now as states disenroll millions who gained Medicaid coverage during the pandemic public health emergency.
Federal legislation passed during the pandemic gave states extra money for Medicaid, but only if they kept people continuously enrolled in the program.
Before the pandemic, people “churned” in and out of Medicaid for various reasons. Participants lost their coverage if they earned too much or didn’t provide the information needed to verify their income or residency.
But during the emergency period, income changes or missed paperwork didn’t matter. If someone was enrolled in Medicaid in March 2020, or if they became eligible at any point during the pandemic, they remained eligible the entire time no matter what.
As a result, Medicaid enrollment grew more than 30 percent and covered more than 90 million people.
Congress, however, recently ended those protections, and states have been able to kick people off since April. According to health policy research group KFF, which is tracking state disclosures, nearly 3.8 million Americans have been kicked off Medicaid rolls as of Tuesday.
Across all states reporting, nearly three-quarters of all people disenrolled had their coverage terminated for “procedural reasons,” meaning missing or incorrect paperwork, or when the state has outdated contact information. Those people may still be eligible.
Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are monitoring the unwinding process and urging state officials to go slow.
Some states, such as Maine, have temporarily paused procedural terminations for some enrollees while the states address problems in the renewal process. But others are continuing to push ahead.