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Over 10,000 Wyomingites disenrolled from Medicaid as renewal process continues

The entire nation is in a Medicaid renewal process. That means people who are on Medicaid need to re-apply. So far, over 10,000 Wyomingites have not filled out that reapplication so they are automatically being taken off Medicaid.

Back before the pandemic, Medicaid renewals happened annually and most people knew to fill it out. Then during the pandemic, the federal government let people stay on without reviewing their Medicaid eligibility. But a recent change in federal law means states are returning to renewal plans.

Kim Deti, Wyoming Department of Health’s (WDH) spokeswoman, said they started sending renewal notices in March. Over 10,000 recipients have not responded which means their insurance will be canceled. Deti said that could mean a couple of things, including that people know they aren’t eligible anymore so they haven’t reapplied or maybe their contact information has changed.

“There is a 90-day window that they can go through what they call reconsideration,” Deti said. “And if they are found to still be eligible, their coverage can be backdated to when it was officially terminated.”

Deti said the department is working hard to make sure people are aware of the switch, and they have started disenrolling those who haven’t reapplied. Deti said people need to remember that Wyoming is not a Medicaid expansion state so that means Medicaid is mainly covering children and vulnerable populations.

It's renewing the coverage for one of your children, or for a vulnerable family member, like someone in a nursing home or someone who's developmentally disabled. So it's not as much about renewing coverage for yourself, as making sure your family member has that,” she said.

Before the pandemic, Deti said WDH had about 50-55,000 enrolled members but in the last four years that has increased to 87,000.

“Not all of those people are eligible for coverage, we've been covering people who are not really eligible for it anymore,” she said. “And so we have a responsibility to make sure that the resources go where they're supposed to go.”

But some health insurance advocates like the The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) say health departments need to be even more flexible so that people don’t get thrown off their insurance without knowing.

The ACS CAN cited a report by Kaiser Family Foundation, which found most Medicaid enrollees were not aware that states are now permitted to resume disenrolling people from the Medicaid program following the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and nearly half of the enrollees report that they have not previously been through the Medicaid renewal process.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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