Hoosiers face Medicaid coverage loss amid ‘unwinding’ phase

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) recently reported that roughly 53,000 Indiana residents have lost their Medicaid coverage this month.

This comes as a result of the cessation of pandemic-related protections, is the first in what is anticipated to be a widespread loss of insurance over the coming year. This “unwinding” is taking place at a significantly quicker pace than initially projected.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), responsible for administering the state’s Medicaid program, pledged to utilize the lessons learned from this first wave of disenrollments to enhance their approach moving forward. Nonetheless, Representative Ed Clere expressed deep concern over the “staggering” number of individuals losing their coverage.

Many states are preparing to face similar circumstances, with hundreds of thousands expected to lose their Medicaid benefits as the federal public health emergency has concluded.

During the pandemic, the federal government encouraged states to retain their residents on Medicaid, providing an enhanced match as an incentive. However, in the aftermath, a significant portion of individuals has been deemed ineligible and removed from the program – 6,089 Hoosiers to be exact. The larger part, 46,896 individuals, were removed due to procedural factors. This redetermination or “unwinding” process will continue on a monthly basis until April 2024.

The initial estimation suggested that over the entire unwinding period, around 300,000-400,000 Hoosiers could lose their coverage. However, individuals who lost coverage due to procedural issues have a 90-day window to complete their renewal application and potentially gain retroactive coverage, excluding members of the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) 2.0.

FSSA leaders expressed hope that some Hoosiers may regain their coverage eventually, though concrete estimates are yet to be produced.

Before the pandemic, Indiana’s Medicaid program had an enrollment of 1.4 million, which increased to over 2.2 million during the public health crisis. Nonis Spinner, the FSSA’s Director of Eligibility and Member Services, notes that the ratio of Hoosiers on Medicaid has shifted from one in five to roughly one in three.

Spinner further emphasized the FSSA’s commitment to mitigating the number of disenrollments in the future, expecting the experiences of the initial wave of disenrollments to guide subsequent renewals.

In the coming months, the federal government will provide consolidated data on those previously on Medicaid who have moved to individual health insurance plans or have opted for employer-provided coverage. Despite the challenges, Indiana’s efforts have been recognized by the health policy non-profit KFF, which has ranked Indiana among the top tier states for Medicaid unwinding policy plans.

Despite this recognition, concern still looms among lawmakers regarding the unknown number of children impacted and the possibility of administrative errors or misunderstanding causing these disenrollments. Regardless of the obstacles, Spinner assures that the FSSA is dedicated to improving their approach in the future.

Roderick Mccormick

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