BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The numbers are in. Of the nearly 40,000 people notified in February of 2019 they’d be removed from Medicaid by the end of March, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) says more than 30,000 cases were closed.
The breakdown is as follows:
- 30,500 cases were closed
- 8,371 people have retained coverage
- LDH is still making determinations on about 1,100 remaining cases
Looking from a glass half full perspective, the updated computer system appears to be identifying program participants who no longer meet eligibility requirements, a note which drew critics to the governor’s office for expanding the program in 2016 without addressing the prior, more time consuming method for checking eligibility among its participants.
However, it’s the glass half empty, the 30,500 closed cases, that could shift concerns to the opposite end of the spectrum.
LDH says differentiating the amount of people who were ineligible for coverage from the large majority of people who lost coverage because they failed to respond, but may still be eligible under the program’s requirements, requires a special query of the system which would take a while.
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration also did not announce when it initially sent the letters, only acknowledging their existence after being questioned by reporters with The Associated Press.
WAFB asked LDH for more information, including an explanation of what other methods besides the letters were used to contact people whose coverage was threatened, and if those methods were being assessed to understand if qualified people simply didn’t get the letter in time to respond.
LDH responded with the following:
“Yes. Medicaid worked with the five managed care organizations who manage the care of the bulk of Medicaid enrollees. These MCOs shared information with both members and providers through their individual distribution channels, including: web sites, call centers, newsletters, individual letters, etc. Medicaid also included the information to providers and posted information online. And, call centers that service Medicaid enrollees – including the primary Medicaid call center at 1-888-342-6207 and Medicaid’s enrollment broker (Healthy Louisiana) call center, provided details on how to respond to caller inquiries related to closures.”
The encouraging news is not all hope is lost for those booted from the program.
LDH says people who lost coverage are encouraged to contact the Federal Insurance Marketplace to see if they can qualify for for alternative assistance. That can be done by clicking the link here.
Additionally, the expanded program requires participants be adults ages 19 to 64 with incomes about up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which could change as participants experience fluctuating or seasonal changes in employment. Those participants are encouraged to reapply for coverage when they become eligible again.