‘Unwinding’ could undermine Medicaid expansion in North Carolina

By Jaymie Baxley

DHHS thinks 300,000 could lose coverage following the end of a federal mandate that protected enrollees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Medicaid expansion was signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Roy Cooper, it was widely heralded as a transformative event for uninsured people in North Carolina.

Amid the bipartisan celebration, there was little mention of the hundreds of thousands of existing enrollees who are expected to lose Medicaid coverage before expansion goes into effect. Few of the revelers acknowledged the less-than-ideal timing of the legislation, which passed just days before the expiration of a federal mandate that had prevented states from kicking Medicaid beneficiaries who became eligible for coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic off of the rolls.

Known as the continuous coverage requirement, the three-year-long mandate ended on April 1, the same week expansion became law. The so-called unwinding of this continuous coverage rule means the state must redetermine the eligibility of more than 2.9 million people who are currently receiving Medicaid. It’s an unprecedented undertaking that some health care advocates fear will trigger a wave of unwarranted terminations.

Before the pandemic, Medicaid recipients usually experienced an annual or semiannual review to verify that they continued to qualify for coverage. But many of the state’s more recent enrollees, who gained coverage during the public health emergency, have never gone through the process. Statewide enrollment grew 36 percent during the pandemic, with over 797,000 people newly qualifying for coverage from March 2020 until April of this year.

Read more at: https://www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/