Breanna Reeves |
With less than two weeks until COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) protections end on Mar. 31, 2023, health advocates and local counties across California are encouraging residents to update their contact information in order to keep their Medi-Cal — California’s Medicaid program — coverage.
In 2022, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 which established an end to COVID-19 protections, putting an end to continuous health coverage that were put in place at the start of the pandemic. This protection allowed beneficiaries to have uninterrupted coverage without having to make any changes or renew their coverage.
According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medi-Cal enrollment increased by more than two million from the start of the pandemic in March 2020, with approximately 11.5 million beneficiaries enrolled in Medi-Cal and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children in families and works alongside Medicaid. By November 2022, roughly 14 million beneficiaries were enrolled in Medi-Cal/CHIP.
More than 15 million residents are currently enrolled in Medi-Cal, according to the Department of Health Care Services’ (DHCS) latest available data from December 2022. On Mar. 31, that number may be reduced as states can begin redetermining who is still eligible for coverage and could begin terminating coverage for residents as early as Apr. 1, 2023. Experts estimate that roughly two to three million beneficiaries could lose their coverage, although many may still be eligible.
Across the U.S., an estimated 91 million people are enrolled in Medicaid. Experts estimate that 15 million will lose coverage while 6.8 million could likely still be eligible.
States have 12 months to start all redeterminations that are pending by Mar. 31, 2020 (the end of the continuous enrollment period) and 14 months to complete them. This period of time marks the “unwinding” period where the state can begin the renewal process that could result in termination of coverage for beneficiaries who are no longer eligible or who have not taken action to update their information.
It is important to update contact information
Advocates and local departments are urging Medi-Cal beneficiaries to make sure that their updated contact information, including names, addresses, telephone numbers and email address, is on file with their local county. Beneficiaries will receive a letter in the mail that will let you know if your county needs additional information from you to renew your Medi-Cal coverage or if your Medi-Cal coverage was renewed automatically.
If beneficiaries receive a renewal form in the mail that indicates that they need to submit information, beneficiaries need to complete and return the form as soon as possible in the pre-paid return envelope that is provided. The form can also be submitted online, in-person or by phone.
According to officials, the renewal process can take between 45 to 90 days depending on specific cases or delays such as someone impacted by disability-based obstacles or waiting on correct paperwork from providers. Medi-Cal members will have 90 days to appeal after being disenrolled.
If a resident is considered ineligible for Medi-Cal, the state is required to transfer the account and assess other affordable insurance options like Covered California, the state’s free online marketplace for low-cost health insurance plans.