by Michael Lyle, Nevada Current
An estimated 200,000 Medicaid recipients will need to re-qualify for eligibility starting April 1 or risk losing health care benefits as Nevada begins to wind down a pandemic-era provision.
Ky Plaskon, a spokesman with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said in an email that the department’s Division of Health Care Financing and Policy, which oversees Nevada Medicaid, is unable to estimate how many people will lose coverage since “every enrollee will be afforded the opportunity to re-qualify for Medicaid by completing a renewal packet.”
“It would be premature to estimate losses simply based on pre-pandemic numbers,” Plaskon said. “Only once all renewal packets have been processed each month will (the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services) begin to have an educated estimate as to the numbers of who will remain eligible and who will not.”
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which required states to keep recipients automatically enrolled in the low-income health insurance program Medicaid. The obligation on states ends March 31.
In order to be eligible for Medicaid in Nevada, people must either be pregnant, responsible for a child 18 years or younger, blind, have a disability or be older than 65 years old. A household of one can’t make more than $19,392 while the cap for a household of four is $39,900.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates Medicaid enrollments nationwide have increased almost 30% since February 2020. As of October 2022, an estimated 91.3 million people are enrolled in Medicaid or the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Nevada has historically averaged about 620,000 enrollees, but the number of enrollees increased to around 900,000 during the last three years, according to the Nevada Medicaid office.
About a third of those Medicaid enrollees are employed people, along with their dependents. The companies with the most employees on Medicaid in Nevada are Amazon, Walmart, Clark County School District and Smith’s, and three Strip resort corporations are among the top ten.
While some enrollees whose information is already on file with the state will be automatically renewed once the federal requirement ends, thousands of recipients will still need to provide requested information to determine eligibility.
The state is winding down the program over 14 months, which will end around May 2024.
During that time, people have a chance to reapply for Medicaid or seek insurance through the Nevada Health Exchange if they no longer qualify.
Plaskon said for redetermination for eligibility initiated April 1, terminations will occur June 1.
“The members are notified in the notice of decision (NOD) and provided with instructions on how to visit the Nevada Health Link website and are referred to the exchange,” Plaskon said. “We are also preparing the public through outreach efforts by making them aware renewals are starting and providing information on the steps they can follow to avoid coverage gaps.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation said the populations most at risk of losing Medicaid are people with limited English proficiency and people with disabilities. The organization notes Nevada is one of 33 states with Medicaid websites and applications that offer more than 30 languages other than English.
To ensure eligible recipients don’t lose Medicaid, Nevada Medicaid and the Department of Welfare and Support Services began emailing and calling enrollees in January. They have also partnered with health organizations and community providers to spread the word.
Current recipients are encouraged to update their address to ensure they are notified.
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