Decisions loom for pandemic-era Medicaid enrollees

Decisions loom for pandemic-era Medicaid enrollees

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Some Kentuckians who signed up for Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic will soon have to shop around to maintain health insurance coverage, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

The Democratic governor said his administration intends to help people through the transition.

“This is a big job,” Beshear said at his weekly news conference. “And it’s one we’ve been planning on for many months and it’s one that we will continue to refine our planning.”

During the global health crisis, about a quarter-million Kentuckians signed up for pandemic Medicaid, the governor estimated. Medicaid a joint federal and state health care program for poor and disabled people.

The surge in sign-ups reflected a nationwide trend. Medicaid enrollment ballooned during the pandemic, in part because the federal government prohibited states from removing people from the program during the public health emergency once they had enrolled.

Now, with President Joe Biden’s administration saying it plans to end the national emergencies for addressing COVID-19, changes are coming.

It means pandemic-era enrollees in Medicaid will need to have their eligibility redetermined, the governor said. And for many, it means health coverage decisions are looming in the coming months.

Late last year, Congress told states they could start removing ineligible people in April.

The governor on Thursday predicted that some affected Kentuckians will continue qualifying for Medicaid. Others will be able to switch to Medicare coverage, while others can transition to insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act’s private marketplace.

The Department for Medicaid Services and managed care organizations will reach out with more information for people faced with making the transition, the governor’s office said.

Kentuckians also can seek help through the state-run web portal known as kynect, the health insurance exchange where Kentuckians can shop and sign up for health coverage and find out whether they qualify for subsidies to help afford coverage.

“We want to ensure all the Kentuckians impacted – every single one of them – are transitioned to one of the new plans,” Beshear said. “There’s much more information to come, but we want to let people know about these changes very early.”

Beshear commonly refers to health care as a “basic human right.” Last year, the governor extended Medicaid coverage for dental, vision and hearing care to hundreds of thousands of Kentucky adults.

His father, Steve Beshear, championed the state’s Medicaid expansion when he was governor. More than 400,000 people were added to the Medicaid rolls when Steve Beshear expanded the program to cover able-bodied adults. For many Kentuckians, it was their first time having health coverage.

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