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Viewpoint: 'Medicaid unwinding' underway in Idaho

Up to 150,000 Idahoans will receive notices that their Medicaid coverage may be ending soon.

BOISE, Idaho — Do you or someone you know have Medicaid for health insurance? A really big change is kicking in on April 1 that you need to know about. That's the date Medicaid coverage will end for potentially tens of thousands of Idahoans and millions of Americans.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020 congress passed a relief bill that blocked states from ending Medicaid benefits for people who were no longer eligible. Then in December of 2022, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that changed Medicaid enrollment rules. It says states can begin 'un-enrolling' people from Medicaid coverage starting April 1. It is referred to as "Medicaid unwinding."

On February 1 the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare started sending notices to those whose coverage may be in jeopardy. Notices will be sent in waves of 30,000 on the first of each month through July.

Those who receive the notice will need to complete the re-evaluation process by calling the Health and Welfare Department at 211 or logging on to Idalink.

If you receive a notice, you have 60 days to complete the re-evaluation before you could be removed. On April 1, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will begin removing those who no longer qualify for Medicaid benefits.

Right now 450,000 Idahoans are enrolled in Medicaid. The department says up to 150,000 of those may no longer be eligible or have not been in contact with the Department of Health and Welfare during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The removals are expected to be completed by September.

Health and Welfare is working with the state health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, on the process.

On this weekend's edition of Viewpoint, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen and Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly said it is crucial that people respond to the notices, and the earlier the better.

Below is an excerpt from the program.

Dave Jeppesen: "One of the goals we have is that individuals have continuous coverage. So if they're no longer eligible for Medicaid, we want to make sure that we get them over to YHI literally the next day so we can start processing them to see if they qualify for coverage on the exchange."

Doug Petcash: Pat, do you worry that people just won't follow through, they won't do the re-evaluation?

Pat Kelly: "That's actually, I think, collectively our biggest concern is that people will either not open their mail, not know that they're up for re-evaluation. and then maybe go see their provider, or they need a prescription or they're not feeling well, and then find out that they don't have coverage."

On this edition of Viewpoint we recap what's happening with "Medicaid unwinding," look at who this could affect, what to do if you get a notice, and what your options are if you are deemed ineligible for Medicaid benefits.

Viewpoint airs Sunday mornings at 9 o'clock on KTVB Idaho's NewsChannel 7.

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