Though the public health emergency (PHE) was recently renewed, Michigan’s Medicaid enrollees could still be in jeopardy of losing their coverage.
The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) outlined recommendations for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to make the redetermination period for Medicaid/CHIP members smooth, without losing health coverage. Their recommendations revolve around expanding communication efforts with enrollees and streamlining the renewal process for members and MDHHS.
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In April, the PHE was extended 90 days and will “almost certainly” extend at least until October, said MLPP’s national partner, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). With the current extension set to end in July and a promised 60-day notice to states before the PHE’s end—that has already passed—CBPP is certain the PHE will be renewed for another 90 days.
With help from CBPP, MLPP has created policy recommendations for Michigan as the state prepares to begin redeterminations and renewals following the expiration of the PHE.
MLPP recommends finding ways to expand and improve communications to Medicaid/CHIP members on their renewal status.
To do this, MLPP recommends the department to engage with local partners and stakeholders for input on the effect on their communities, sharing the state’s plan on assuming renewal operations with the public, making sure call centers are publicly available, and expanding follow-up methods for harder-to-reach enrollees.
MLPP also recommends streamlining renewals by continuing to allow Medicaid/CHIP enrollees to renew online, in-person, or by phone. They also recommend investing in current and new staff to assist enrollees with the renewal process and increasing the percentage of Medicaid/CHIP renewals completed ex parte.
Completing renewals ex parte allows the state agency to check available data sources—like the Social Security Administration and commercial wage databases—to confirm ongoing eligibility without requiring additional information from the enrollee.
“This could speed up the process [for MDHHS], since it would be possible to renew enrollees automatically,” said Monique Stanton, President and CEO of MLPP. “I think it is better since it is less cumbersome for individuals.”
MDHHS has already indicated that they will use the full 12-month period given by the federal government to unwind the PHE flexibilities and start initiating renewals. The department has also started to meet with local partners and community organizations to give these stakeholders a seat at the table.
“The anticipated extension of the public health emergency until this fall is not only a relief–it is an opportunity,” Stanton said. “We know Michigan officials are working hard to prepare for the PHE transition and protect coverage for millions of Michiganders, and these are concrete steps that can be taken to assist with that effort.”
Stanton said MLPP will continue to attend conversations with agency leaders and continue to issue recommendations to best help Michiganders.