‘Unwinding’ of Medicaid could put your coverage at risk

By Monica Cissell | September 1, 2023

In Kansas and across the nation, Medicaid beneficiaries are at risk for losing their Medicaid coverage and critical services. Safeguards were put in place to ensure that individuals on Medicaid would not lose their coverage during the pandemic. Since the Public Health Emergency ended on May 11, 2023, all states are resuming the regular renewal process. This may put eligible individuals at risk if they don’t take proper action.
     The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated that between 8 and 24 million people will lose Medicaid coverage during what is being called the “unwinding of Medicaid.” Many of these individuals may still be eligible for Medicaid but will lose coverage because they didn’t return needed forms or an error was made either by the state agency overseeing Medicaid or the individual. The Medicaid process is complicated and many eligible individuals may not be aware of the requirements or may be unable to complete the tasks required to maintain coverage.

 In Kansas, the Medicaid program is called KanCare and three Managed Care Companies provide coverage, services and supports to beneficiaries (Aetna, Sunflower Health Plan and United Healthcare Community Plan).

 Everyone covered by Medicaid should:

Renew coverage — Over the next 12 months, everyone with health care coverage including HCBS in-home services through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will need to renew their coverage. When forms arrive in the mail, respond in a timely manner. If you don’t, you may lose your coverage even if you are still eligible. You should respond even if you are not eligible or are enrolled in other coverage. Your children could still be eligible for coverage.

• Update contact information — Update phone, address or any critical contact info with KanCare (800-792-4884).

• Learn about appeal options — If you lose Medicaid coverage and think you may still be eligible, there are advocates available to help you understand your appeal options: Call the KanCare Ombudsman at (855) 643-8180 or Kansas’ Elder Hotline at (888) 353-5337.

• Learn about other options — If you are no longer eligible for Medicaid, you should check to see if you can get coverage through your employer or through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace at healthcare.gov. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services have established a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act Marketplace from March 31, 2023 through July 31, 2024 for anyone who loses Medicaid coverage during unwinding. 

• Learn about Medicare coverage — Adults 65 and older and people with disabilities who are eligible for Medicare can also find assistance through the Senior Health Insurance Counseling of Kansas (SHICK) at (800) 860-5260. 

According to the Kansas Health Institute, the Kansas Unwinding Plan, developed by Kansas Department for Health and Environment, is to re-determine eligibility for current Medicaid enrollees within 12 months.

Help get the word out, share this article with others you know who may have Medicaid coverage or receive Medicaid services. The Central Plains Area Agency on Aging is here to help. If you have questions, call 855-200-2372.

Monica Cissell is director of communications and services for CPAAA.