Washington, DC – During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented flexibilities to help people across the country get on, and stay on, Medicaid. As these adjustments were primarily intended to address the effects of a rapidly evolving pandemic, many flexibilities were set to terminate at the end of the PHE. However, Congress recently passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which set the end date of the Medicaid continuous coverage requirement as March 31, 2023. As a result, state Medicaid agencies will begin the process of redetermining Medicaid eligibility as early as today. The first Medicaid terminations can happen as early as April 1, 2023.
“A significant component of the COVID-19 PHE was an enormous increase in state Medicaid funding on the condition that states could not kick people off of Medicaid until the end of the declared emergency,” said Alicia Emanuel, senior attorney at the National Health Law Program. “This guaranteed that no one lost access to health coverage during the pandemic, which was critical as intersecting inequities made low-income communities and communities of color more susceptible to the impacts of COVID-19. Now that the Medicaid continuous coverage requirement has been decoupled from the end of the PHE, states will move to redetermine eligibility of Medicaid enrollees, which has the potential to result in a massive loss of Medicaid coverage. Advocates must work with communities, state Medicaid agencies, and policymakers to ensure that the unwinding process does not exacerbate existing inequities in health care access.”
“Across the country, millions of eligible individuals and families could lose coverage, and many more will be forced to navigate complex and confusing re-enrollment processes,” said Sarah Somers, Managing Attorney of NHeLP’s NC office. “The National Health Law Program and our state-based Health Law Partnerships have been preparing for the PHE unwinding and are ready if state Medicaid programs improperly terminate eligible people.”
The National Health Law Program and our partners are committed to supporting advocates on the ground as we work towards a smooth Medicaid unwinding process that preserves Medicaid coverage for all who remain eligible.
Learn more about the Medicaid unwinding process and find additional resources here.