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  • Posted June 4, 2024

Black, Hispanic Americans More Likely to Be Dropped From Medicaid

Following the end of temporary pandemic-era rules expanding access to Medicaid, about 10 million Americans have lost that coverage.

But a new report finds that most folks who've lost coverage have done so because of paperwork issues, and they're far more likely to be people of color.

“A lot of people got kicked off Medicaid for administrative reasons,” said senior study author Dr. Jane Zhu, an associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

“Our study found that Black and Hispanic people are twice as likely to lose Medicaid insurance for reasons that can be addressed by systems improvements," she added in a university news release.

The findings were published June 3 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

With the rescinding of pandemic rules, states began the process of determining the continued Medicaid eligibility (or not) of Americans who'd gained coverage during the crisis.

This often involved complicated multiple steps, with the attendant paperwork, for individuals who were affected.

To determine how all of that has worked out, Zhu's team looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey for March 29 through Oct. 2, 2023. This information helped them calculate how many people were disenrolled from Medicaid during that time, and which groups were most affected.

One big finding: Three-quarters of those who lost Medicaid coverage lost it because of "procedural reasons," not because a state had found them to be ineligible.

These procedural reasons included enrollees not receiving a renewal notice; not filing the right paperwork; or missing some step that was needed to renew their post-pandemic Medicaid eligibility, Zhu's team said.

Black and Hispanic people were twice as likely to encounter one of these bureaucratic pitfalls as whites, the study found, and to subsequently lose their Medicaid coverage because of it.

All of that means hardship for millions of individuals and families nationwide.

Steps such as "expedited administrative processes, expanded renewal assistance and prioritized redeterminations for beneficiaries most likely to be ineligible,” are needed to help Medicaid-eligible people retain coverage, the researchers wrote.

Speaking with the New York Times, Zhu called steps like these "low-hanging fruit."

“Do we have the right contact information? Are we sending enrollment and eligibility paperwork to the right people at the right time? Are we considering all different forms of automatically re-enrolling individuals?” she said. “These are all things that are systems issues, systems barriers that should be easy to address, and by addressing them can limit disruptions.”

More information

Find out more about maintaining Medicaid coverage at medicaid.gov.

SOURCES: Oregon Health & Science University, news release, June 3, 2024; New York Times

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