Due to the unwinding of the federal public health emergency, all states have begun renewing the eligibility of members within Medicaid programs. Minnesota, like several other states, has chosen to pause procedural terminations to provide members extra time to get their renewal paperwork turned in.
Minnesota began redeterminations in April and is attempting to reach 1.5 million enrollees in the Medical Assistance program—the state’s Medicaid program—and the MinnesotaCare program, which covers low-income individuals who are ineligible for Medical Assistance. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) estimates that throughout this renewal process, 15 to 25 percent of enrollees in both programs may lose coverage.
Julie Marquardt, assistant commissioner of DHS’s Health Care Administration, spoke with State of Reform about the decision to pause disenrollments.
Stay one step ahead. Join our email list for the latest news.Subscribe
“We don’t know why people don’t return their paperwork. For instance, some may have gotten a job with employer coverage and no longer need Medical Assistance, others may have moved and did not receive their paperwork, and others may have difficulty understanding what action is needed and how to access assistance.”
About one in four Minnesota residents receive healthcare coverage through Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare. The state extended the timeline for renewing the July and August member cohorts, each by one month. DHS doesn’t currently plan to extend other renewal deadline dates.
“We are continuously evaluating the situation, taking into consideration the impacts on enrollees and county and Tribal agencies who process renewals,” Marquardt said. “During the extension, we have increased our outreach and the $36 million in legislative funding for counties and Tribes who process renewals has been distributed, providing them resources to support their renewal efforts that may include additional staffing and outreach.”
The state distributed payments from the $36 million in legislative funding last month to counties and the White Earth Nation, which is the only Tribal Nation in Minnesota that processes renewals for public healthcare programs. Funds will cover costs that also include paying overtime and addressing health disparities.
DHS will continue to collaborate with county and tribal partners, as well as health plans, who are receiving up-to-date information and taking actions to directly contact beneficiaries who haven’t responded to state requests for information. The department is also distributing information regarding renewals and procedural terminations at numerous community events and public spaces through community-based organizations and trusted community partners.
The department will continue to communicate with individuals through mail and is now conducting outreach to enrollees through text messaging and phone calls. Marquardt told State of Reform that partners, including Medicaid managed-care organizations, made an extra attempt to reach enrollees in the past several weeks through phone calls, text messaging, emails, mailings, community events, and additional direct outreach. DHS is working to expand social media outreach and developing text and robo-call campaigns to reach enrollees.
“Our goal has been to ensure that eligible Minnesotans keep their coverage,” Marquardt said. “We want people to know that they can still return their renewal forms and their eligibility will be determined. In fact, people may qualify for up to three months of retroactive coverage from the month their renewal was returned.”
She explained that if an individual loses coverage on Aug. 1st, they can return their renewal form in November, and if they meet eligibility requirements, their coverage may be retroactively restored back to August 1st.