Child Medicaid Crisis: HHS Rebukes 9 States Over Disenrollment Spike!
In a significant move to safeguard children’s access to healthcare, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken a firm stance against the alarming rates of childhood Medicaid Disenrollment in nine states. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, demonstrating the urgency of this issue, issued letters on December 18th to the governors of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas.
These states have been identified as having the highest numbers or percentages of child Medicaid Disenrollment during the redetermination process. The essence of Mr. Becerra’s message is clear: states must adopt more effective strategies to ensure children remain enrolled in Medicaid.
He emphasizes the adoption of flexibilities suggested by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), such as temporarily pausing Disenrollmentand and enhancing automatic enrollment processes. Moreover, the secretary has highlighted the need to refine the auto-renewal process and intensify outreach efforts to families at risk of being disenrolled.
The urgency of this matter is underscored by a December 18th news release from HHS, which revealed a striking correlation: states with a higher proportion of automatic Medicaid renewals see significantly lower rates of children being disenrolled. This connection indicates that procedural improvements in the renewal process could have substantial impacts on maintaining coverage for vulnerable populations.
HHS has been proactive in addressing high rates of procedural Disenrollment, particularly among children. Notably, in September, the agency temporarily halted procedural Disenrollment in 30 states until they addressed an auto-renewal glitch that led to the termination of coverage for at least 500,000 individuals, many of whom were children.
Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) provides a startling context to this issue. Approximately 40% of individuals disenrolled during the redetermination process are children. The redetermination of Medicaid eligibility, which began in April for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, has resulted in over 12.6 million disenrollments.
Disturbingly, 71% of these Disenrollmentwere for procedural reasons, rather than beneficiaries no longer meeting the income qualifications for the program. This initiative by HHS is a critical step in addressing the systemic issues leading to the disenrollment of children from Medicaid.
By urging states to adopt more efficient and humane procedures, the HHS is advocating for the health and well-being of millions of children across the United States. This move not only seeks to rectify immediate concerns but also aims to set a precedent for how healthcare access for the most vulnerable is managed and protected in the future.