What the public health emergency extension means for Michigan
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the US Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency for the entire United States. Under the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), multiple changes were enacted for Medicaid policies, Medicaid administration, and to Michigan’s Medicaid programs.
Specifically, Michigan Medicaid was required to continue healthcare coverage for all individuals under medical assistance programs, which include Medicaid, MI Child, and Healthy Michigan Plan. Moreover, coverage changes made it easier for beneficiaries to extend their coverage along with making it easier for residents to enroll in programs of which they would have not normally qualified for.
Since the start of the pandemic, the PHE has been renewed each quarter of the year for a total of 11 times. It was due to end this past week. However, the PHE was extended, and it has been reported that this may also be the last extension.
Originally under the PHE provisions, the federal government had a coverage requirement to stabilize coverage in the pandemic, which prevented states from terminating people’s Medicaid coverage until the end of the month in which PHE ends. However, starting April 1st and with the recent passage of the federal omnibus spending bill, the PHE provisions were removed and states will no longer be required to keep covering everyone on their Medicaid programs even if the PHE continues.
At this time, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is preparing for April 1st, when the state will restart Medicaid eligibility renewals. The federal government has indicated it will give states a 60-day notice before formally ending the PHE. Once MDHHS knows that the PHE will end, it will notify their beneficiaries and partners, and beneficiaries will receive an alert letter with guidance on next steps.
Additionally, since the PHE the federal government announced policy changes to broaden Medicare coverage for telehealth. Consequently, this temporary policy is scheduled to end 151 days after the end of the PHE or expire at the end of 2023. However, MDHHS reports it’s in the process of developing a post-public health emergency policy for telemedicine, which would potentially be a long-term solution once the PHE ends. Once a policy is proposed, MDHHS will solicit public comments from stakeholders.