With Minnesota set to wrap up Medicaid eligibility redeterminations in July, health leaders met last month at the 2023 Minnesota State of Reform Health Policy Conference to discuss the primary challenges and best practices moving forward.
Since Minnesota resumed Medicaid eligibility redeterminations last July after the end of the federal public health emergency, 625,968 individuals have retained their Medicaid coverage, 103,150 have experienced coverage loss, and 600,835 individuals have an unknown or pending outcome, according to the state’s data.
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Julie Marquardt, acting assistant commissioner and state Medicaid director for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, said the department is learning about their successes and improvements in the future.
“Our best laid plans were never followed because CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] has certainly thrown some wrenches into our best laid plans—but for good reason,” Marquardt said. “We share the objective that CMS has to ensure that everybody that remains eligible keeps their coverage.”
Marquardt said she has thought about workforce extensively in the past three years, and how many in the healthcare industry have left to pursue other opportunities or have retired. At the same time, Marquardt said the healthcare job market is competitive. She said the department is working closely with counties regarding initiatives and the impact they may have on local workforces.
Marti Fischbach, director of community services for Dakota County, said the public assistance area has historically experienced high employee turnover, but the pandemic led to an even greater gap. About 60 percent of staff working on renewals have never experienced the renewal process, Fischbach said, adding that there is not a clear or concise playbook to learn from since instructions from CMS continue to change.
“It has been really tricky, so the workforce is difficult,” Fischbach said.
Chris Reiten, vice president of Medicaid for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, said that their goal is to “complement processes, not complicate processes,” put in place by CMS.
During the process, the state was initially redetermining eligibility by household rather than by an individual basis, but has since made adjustments. Some have had their Medicaid coverage reinstated, and some experienced an extended redeterminations timeline for Minnesota to conduct further outreach and to allow for individuals to update their personal information. Panelists agreed, however, that there is still not enough awareness about the redeterminations process.
January will see the largest number of disenrollments so far in Minnesota due to the extended timeline and the switch from determining eligibility by household to doing so for individual beneficiaries, and panelists said stakeholders shouldn’t be surprised by data showing significant coverage loss.