Idaho removed 121,000 people from Medicaid rolls, but at least 13,000 have re-enrolled. (Getty Images)
About 13,000 Idahoans removed from Medicaid for not replying to the state’s request for information after pandemic-era protections lapsed have gotten back on the program, an official announced Tuesday.
Idaho health officials in August finished reviewing the eligibility of 153,000 people they flagged as likely ineligible for Medicaid, either for not replying to the state’s request for information or because their information showed they were not eligible.
Idaho removed 121,000 people in that group from Medicaid rolls, but state officials only proved that about 45,000 people were actually ineligible for Medicaid. Another 77,000 people were removed because they didn’t reply to the state’s requests for information, said Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Deputy Director Jennifer Palagi.
Who qualifies for Medicaid enrollment in Idaho?
Anyone eligible for Idaho Medicaid can enroll at any time. Idaho Medicaid is open to single adults who earn $1,677 each month, or a household of two that earns $2,268 per month. The program’s income guidelines for various household sizes are available online. Idaho Medicaid’s income limits for children are higher.
Palagi told the Department of Health and Welfare’s board on Tuesday that state officials expect more people removed to get back on the program – a process commonly called “churn.” People losing Medicaid coverage and then getting back on the program happens normally, she said. But experts have expected it more frequently now as states begin to review Medicaid eligibility for the first time since the pandemic.
“We expect more churn,” Palagi said.
Anyone who lost Medicaid since April 2023 can enroll in insurance policies on Your Health Idaho, the state’s health insurance exchange, until Nov. 30 through what officials call a special open enrollment period. Insurance plans through Your Health Idaho are open to anyone to sign up for policies effective in 2024 until Dec. 15.
By late September, 31% of Idahoans removed from Medicaid were receiving coverage through Your Health Idaho. But officials have said they don’t know where everyone removed from Medicaid is going for health coverage.
Medicaid disenrollment has been taking place in states across the U.S.
Nationally, since states began to evaluate the eligibility of people on Medicaid, five million people were removed from the program, including two million children, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.
Idaho has the second highest Medicaid removal rate of all states, at 64%, just behind Texas, according to KFF. Idaho also had the third highest rate of procedural disenrollments, which is when officials remove people from Medicaid for not replying to the state’s request for information, KFF reports.
About 48% of people removed from Medicaid in Idaho were children, the fourth highest rate of children being removed, KFF reports.
Idaho began to remove people from Medicaid earlier and more targeted than other states.
Idaho started removing people from Medicaid in April, when pandemic-era protections for Medicaid enrollees were lifted. Only four states started removing people that early.
Idaho officials also focused on removing people from Medicaid they thought were likely ineligible. Only 21 states prioritized at least some renewals for people who were likely ineligible.
Hillarie Hagen, policy analyst at Idaho Voices of Children, attributed people re-enrolling in Medicaid as a result of the state’s quick approach to winding.
“There’s gonna be a lot of up and down over the next six months or so, as we’re kind of one of the first states to rush through this,” Hagen told the Idaho Capital Sun.
Many children disenrolled from Idaho Medicaid are likely still eligible, she said.
State officials previously told the Idaho Capital Sun that the rate of people removed for not replying to the state would decline after the state completes reviewing people likely ineligible for Medicaid.
Idaho Medicaid serves about 450,000 people, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said in its budget request submitted in September.
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What is Medicaid disenrollment?
A federal law during the COVID-19 pandemic stopped states from removing people from Medicaid. States may now remove people who no longer qualify. But Idaho didn’t stop processing renewals for people on Medicaid during the pandemic. Instead of removing ineligible people from the program during the renewal process, state officials flagged them as likely to be removed.
The state health department flagged about 153,000 people in that time — either because they didn’t respond to the state’s requests for their information, or their records showed they were ineligible for Medicaid. Those people became what Idaho called the “Medicaid Protection” population.
Officials stress that if you are removed from Medicaid but are still eligible or become eligible, you can reapply at any time. Idaho will also reinstate Medicaid coverage for people removed from Medicaid who filled out part of their application to avoid gaps in coverage after removal if people reapply within 90 days after being removed.
To make sure you know when the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is evaluating the eligibility of your Medicaid, update your address and contact info with the department. Go online to idalink.idaho.gov, or contact [email protected] or call 877-456-1233.
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