Mar 30, 2023 - News

Thousands in D.C. to lose coverage as Medicaid cliff approaches

Illustration of a person looking over the edge of a large cliff chasm shaped like a medical cross

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Pandemic-era rules that allowed more people to stay on Medicaid are ending.

Why it matters: Around 305,000 D.C. residents are enrolled in Medicaid. But starting in April, an estimated 10% will find out they’re no longer eligible and will have to find new coverage.

Catch up quick: Under the COVID public health emergency, the federal government required state Medicaid agencies to provide continuous Medicaid coverage to all enrollees.

  • As of April 1, however, states will start having to redetermine who is eligible.

The big picture: The change comes after the need for Medicaid increased in recent years. More people enrolled in the program during the pandemic, likely due to economic turmoil — including around 51,000 D.C. residents.

State of play: Nearly two-thirds of current enrollees in D.C. will be automatically renewed, Melisa Byrd, D.C.’s Medicaid director, tells Axios, because the city has their most updated information already and can confirm eligibility.

D.C. and Maryland will begin sending out notices on April 1 to beneficiaries to let them know to re-enroll in Medicaid. Virginia has already started notifying beneficiaries of their eligibility. The full renewal process will take 14 months across the region.

Yes, but: Many who are ineligible will be able to get coverage through their employers or DC Health Link, Byrd says.

Zoom out: Between five and 14 million people across the nation could lose Medicaid coverage, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates.

  • Some may be eligible but don’t fill out the paperwork to renew, sometimes because they don’t know or understand what they need, Jennifer Tolbert, KFF’s associate director for the Medicaid program, tells Axios.

What's next: D.C. is encouraging Medicaid enrollees to update their contact information with the agency as soon as possible to avoid any delays in coverage.


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