End to Medicaid “Continuous Coverage” Requirement Threatens Healthcare Access for People with Low Incomes and People Experiencing Homelessness

Medicaid’s “continuous coverage” requirement, which prevents states from disenrolling anyone from Medicaid even if their income or household size has changed, will end on March 31.

Created in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirement paused Medicaid’s normal policy of requiring enrollees to renew their coverage annually. The omnibus spending package that was passed in December 2022 permits states to begin the “unwinding” process by redetermining who is eligible for Medicaid. States can begin the process in February, March, or April 2023 and will have 12 months to finish their reviews, though states can start disenrolling enrollees as soon as April 1.

According to the U.S. Department of Human Health Services (HHS), an estimated 15 million people, including 5.3 million children, could be without medical coverage as a result of this change. HHS estimates that, of this number, almost half will face disenrollment despite continuing to be eligible for Medicaid coverage because of procedural hurdles in the renewal process like those involving changes in address, lack of a reliable mailing address, lack of language access, and lack of documents for verifying eligibility.

Many of those at risk of losing Medicaid coverage live in HUD-assisted housing, are unhoused, recently incarcerated, or aging out of foster care. While housing assistance will not be affected by loss of Medicaid coverage, being uninsured or underinsured increases the risk of medical debt and can require households to make impossible choices between paying for medical care and keeping a roof over their heads.

Current Medicaid enrollees should immediately contact their state Medicaid agency to ensure their mailing address and phone number are up to date so they are able to receive important notices and renewal forms. Enrollees can get assistance with their health insurance applications through community enrollment assisters. Service providers can also help their clients navigate the renewal process and connect them to additional resources.

Learn more about the anticipated changes to Medicaid at: bit.ly/3YFeoj7