If you’re on Medicaid in Georgia, there could be major changes to your coverage in the near future. Starting on April 1, the state will start the process of reviewing and reevaluating eligibility for the 2.7 million people on Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids.
According to local experts, it’s estimated that more than 500,000 residents could lose their Medicaid coverage. According to a 2021 study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the majority of patients on Medicaid in Georgia are Black.
Why is this happening? What does this mean for you? What steps can you take to make sure you’re still covered? We explain the process, who is at risk of losing coverage, and what you can do to ensure your family is looped in on all the key deadlines.
So, why is this happening?
At the beginning of the pandemic, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which included a requirement that Medicaid programs keep people enrolled through the end of the Public Health Emergency, which is set to expire on May 11. Once the month of May ends, Georgia will be allowed to disenroll people from the Medicaid rolls. The process is expected to be ongoing throughout the year.
At the end of last year, Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republican governors penned a letter to President Joe Biden, calling for an end to the Public Health Emergency. It’s estimated that Medicaid enrollment increased by 28% nationwide since February 2020 nationwide.
“The PHE is negatively affecting states, primarily by artificially growing our population covered under Medicaid (both traditional and expanded populations), regardless of whether individuals continue to be eligible under the program,” the group wrote.
Why would I lose coverage?
There are a lot of factors that could play into losing your Medicaid coverage. Normally, Medicaid recipients are reevaluated every year to ensure that they are still at a low enough income to receive government sponsored health care coverage. The Department of Community Health, where the state’s Medicaid program is housed, has not done the reevaluation process since the Public Health Emergency was put in place on March 18, 2020.
“When COVID-19 hit about three years ago, a lot of people became eligible for Medicaid that typically would not have,” said Jodie Smith, the sales director at Agility Insurance Services. “COVID-19 was a global pandemic, so a lot of people lost their job … and have not had to renew.”
If your income grew significantly, there’s a chance you won’t qualify for Medicaid anymore. Be aware that a failure to update your contact and health information needed for Medicaid eligibility workers to begin your renewal process could also cause you to lose coverage. Before the state discontinues your service, they’re required to attempt to notify you via text message, phone call, or mail.
“One thing that does concern me with people losing Medicaid is that a lot of people probably moved, they’ve probably transitioned,” Smith said.
What can I do to make sure the state has all my right info?
If you haven’t already, you need to update your contact information! Residents currently enrolled in Medicaid can update their information in one of three ways:
- Online at the Department of Human Services benefits website
- Visiting the DHS office. You must book an appointment. Find the location nearest you here.
- You can also reach someone in the office by phone at (877) GA-DHS-GO, or 711 for the hearing-impaired
“Now that we know redetermination will begin April 1, 2023, it’s more important than ever for Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids members to make sure their contact information is up to date so we can reach them with critical, timely information,” said DHS Commissioner Candice Broce in a statement. “We want to make sure that eligible Medicaid members do not risk losing their family’s coverage.”
All the most recent information must be provided before April 1.
I’m not sure if I’m on Medicaid. How can I check?
You’ll want to hop online and visit Georgia Gateway, the state’s website for information on social services. On the Gateway portal, you can make sure your phone number, address, job or income, and number of people in your household are accurate. DHS is encouraging recipients to select email alerts to get the fastest notifications. Once your info is up to date, you will be contacted about the status of your eligibility.
What are my next steps?
DHS and the state launched their “Stay Informed. Stay Covered.” campaign to keep residents looped in on all the relevant Medicaid info. The website provides instructions on how to add your info to the Gateway portal. You can also visit the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Regulations and Guidance website for more information.
Are you or someone you know concerned about losing your Medicaid coverage? We want to hear from you. Send your story to Capital B Atlanta health reporter Kenya Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.