Medicaid renewals resume for first time since beginning of COVID-19 pandemic

Medicaid renewals resume for first time since beginning of COVID-19 pandemic

By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
jnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD – Medicaid recipients in Illinois should be on the lookout for correspondence from the state regarding their coverage as the normal renewal process resumes for the first time in three years.

Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income and disabled people that is jointly funded by the federal government and the states. Throughout the pandemic, people who were enrolled in Medicaid did not have to go through the normal process of reapplying every 12 months to determine whether they were eligible, even if there were changes in their income or household that would normally make them ineligible.

That rule has ended due to a change approved by the federal government in its December spending plan. Redetermination letters will be sent to Illinois Medicaid recipients in waves over the next 12 months, with letters going out to the first group this week.

State officials are urging all Medicaid recipients to update their information within the Illinois Medicaid program to ensure their benefits are not wrongly ended due to the state being unable to contact them. Medicaid recipients can do so, and can check their enrollment status, by visiting abe.illinois.gov and clicking “Manage My Case” to set up an online account.

Recipients can also call 1-800-843-6154 or find more at Medicaid.illinois.gov, which includes answers to frequently asked questions and other resources.

In June, according to the governor’s office, approximately 113,600 cases in Illinois are up for renewal. Of those, 51 percent have been automatically renewed as a result of screening by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which administers Medicaid at the state level. Still, customers with June renewal dates are urged to watch for correspondence from the state to see if they have been renewed automatically or will need to take action by June 1.

Customers who do not respond or who are no longer eligible will lose Medicaid coverage a month after their due date, the administration said in a news release. Those losing eligibility will be notified and will receive information about enrolling in alternative coverage.

DHFS said that Illinois’ Medicaid enrollment grew by about 1 million enrollees during the COVID-19 pandemic, to 3.9 million. But the state also received an additional $3 billion in federal funding through the enhanced matching rate.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that about 9.5 percent of Medicaid enrollees nationwide, or 8.2 million people, could lose coverage because they are no longer eligible. Another 7.9 percent, or 6.8 million people, could lose coverage despite still being eligible due to issues with the application process.

That would translate to roughly 700,000 people in Illinois. In February, IDHFS said in a news release the department believed it could mitigate the impact to result in roughly 384,000 losing coverage, acknowledging “nobody knows for sure” how many individuals would be affected.  

“Illinois has taken a proactive, multi-faceted approach to try to make sure that everyone who is eligible for Medicaid can continue coverage through the program without disruption,” IDHFS Director Theresa Eagleson said in a statement Monday. “Medicaid customers have not had to renew coverage in over three years, and we have engaged in many levels of outreach to prepare people for when their renewal date comes up. We believe these efforts will have a significant impact in preserving coverage.”

The department has been building up staff and has conducted a multi-platform outreach campaign called “Ready to Renew” to ensure recipients are prepared for their renewals. The state is also collaborating with community health centers and local organizations to publicize the restarting of renewals.

The governor’s COVID-19 disaster declaration, which has been ongoing in 30-day increments since March 2020, expires on May 11. That will coincide with the conclusion of the federal government’s disaster declaration.  

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

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