From 2 to 3 million Californians now insured under Medi-Cal extensions the federal government’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) funded may lose their coverage later this year. Also, the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) is scheduled to expire April 16, and unless extended, that expiration will trigger “downstream” effects on Californians. If the state of emergency expires, states will begin issuing 60-day notices to those affected.
Reporting by explains the two different mechanisms in play here.
First, during the PHE, states were not allowed to drop people from Medicaid (in California known as Medi-Cal). The usual program of biennial eligibility renewals was frozen and anyone on the program was allowed to remain. If the state of emergency expires, notices to reapply will be issued.
The second issue is the ARP that provided around $3 billion to California to expand subsidies available through Covered California. These subsidies are “locked in” for the rest of the year, and unless Congress decides to extend them, the state estimates that low-income residents may see their monthly premiums roughly double from an average of $65 to $131.
Other changing conditions may also result in fewer Medi-Cal enrollees. Some may no longer need the coverage, having returned to workplaces that offer coverage. Some may still meet income requirements for subsidies and begin one of those plans.
The concern is that many, especially the most vulnerable, may simply be lost in the shuffle and let their coverage lapse. Those who have moved may not receive notifications from the state unless they have filed change of address forms.
A National Public Radio story reminds readers that “[a]s this tsunami of work approaches, many state and local offices are short-staffed.”