Some Patients may Lose Medicaid Benefits

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Medicaid enrollment changes that will make tens of thousands of patients in New Mexico ineligible for coverage are coming by the year's end.

Pandemic-related emergency orders in New Mexico have been extended until October. This allows Medicaid patients several months to seek alternative insurance, including plans offered through the state’s health insurance exchange, BeWellnm, reports Yahoo News’ recent article entitled “Some will lose Medicaid coverage by year’s end.”

However, many Medicaid patients who need to find new coverage by November 1 either have no idea of the coming changes or are hard to reach, officials from the state Human Services Department told the Legislative Finance Committee on Thursday.

Changes to financial criteria for Medicaid will impact about 85,000 of the 987,000 New Mexico patients enrolled in the program, state Medicaid Director Nicole Comeaux said.

“We want the public to understand what’s happening so as to not lose coverage,” she said.

The program’s challenges — such as call center staffing issues, supply chain problems, Medicaid members changing benefits and old or incorrect contact information in the data system — make the state’s efforts to reach patients even more difficult, Human Services Secretary David Scrase told lawmakers.

Comeaux said Medicaid patients should look for a turquoise envelope in the mail, which will contain a notification letter. This letter will start going out about 45 days before benefits are scheduled to end.

Repeated efforts to grab patients’ attention with white envelopes haven’t been successful, she said. “They’re tossing us in the trash.”

The state also will use radio and digital media sources to inform the public of the changes.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health care for low-income Americans.

The state’s insurance exchange, which includes a variety of plans by different companies, largely serves self-employed workers and their families and others who don’t get medical coverage through their job.

The New Mexico exchange also offers group coverage for workers at some small businesses.

Many patients who signed up for policies are now benefiting from subsidies through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, which reduced premiums significantly.

Russell Toal, New Mexico’s insurance superintendent, told lawmakers he thinks that most Medicaid recipients who lose coverage will turn to BeWellnm to find a new plan. He said he was optimistic that federal officials will delay the changes until at least January 1 of next year.

Nobody in a political office at the federal or state level wants to “kick millions of people” off Medicaid rolls just before an election, Superintendent Toal said.

Reference: Yahoo News (May 20, 2022) “Some will lose Medicaid coverage by year’s end”

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