With pandemic protections ending, Louisiana will reach out to every Medicaid enrollee
Millions of people are expected to lose their Medicaid eligibility in the coming months as states return the programs to pre-COVID status. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Louisiana will send letters next month to all of the state’s 2 million Medicaid enrollees in an attempt to verify their contact information ahead of a massive Medicaid disenrollment process that will take place over the next year.
Louisiana estimates it will be dropping between 280,000 and 350,000 people from Medicaid over the next 12 months as federal COVID-19 protections come to an end, said Tara LeBlanc, executive director for Louisiana’s Medicaid program. She emphasized the state doesn’t really know what the “magic number” of people losing that health care coverage will be.
“The only estimate that we have is for budget purposes, but we really don’t know that exact number,” she said.
The letters being sent to Medicaid recipients will be a pink color in order to draw attention to them.
“It tells the member they need to keep their contact information up to date and to start watching their mail and they need to read the mail and respond accordingly,” LeBlanc said.
Medicaid recipients who receive a pink letter don’t need to take immediate action but should watch their mail closely for more information about their enrollment status to arrive.
People in Medicaid who don’t receive a pink letter in March should reach out to the Louisiana Department of Health to try to update their contact information, LeBlanc said.
People will primarily be booted from Medicaid if they make too much money to qualify for the program, which is supposed to focus on assisting low-and-moderate income residents.
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The federal government is ending COVID-19 protections in April that have kept millions of additional people across the country on Medicaid regardless of their income. Since 2020, it has given states incentives to let people stay in the health care insurance because of the pandemic, but those benefits are coming to an end later this year.
The decision leaves states to sort through who still qualifies for Medicaid coverage and who should be removed from the rolls. It will be a colossal undertaking in Louisiana, where 42% of the entire population is in Medicaid and the state program has grown by 442,000 people since the COVID-19 “pause” on disenrollment started.
An initial step in making sure the Louisiana Department of Health can check all Medicaid recipients’ income status is the pink letter verifying contact information. The full Medicaid review will start in April and last about 12 months, with people being removed from the rolls in 30-day increments.
A variety of people qualify for Medicaid, including those who are poor, disabled, pregnant or postpartum. Children whose parents may not be able to afford private health care coverage are also Medicaid recipients. GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
The income thresholds to enter Medicaid fluctuate, depending on the condition that allows a person to initially qualify.
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For example, adults who qualify for Medicaid because they are low-income cannot make more than $3,192 per month for a family of four, but children in a family of four can still qualify for some Medicaid coverage if that household income is as high as $5,897 per month.
Children with disabilities in a family of four have an even higher income threshold and can be on Medicaid if the family makes up $6,938 per month, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
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