Medicaid Unwinding: Preparing Now So Beneficiaries Maintain Coverage

Members | June 22, 2022 | by Meredith Chillemi

Today CMS hosted the second meeting of “Medicaid and CHIP Continuous Enrollment Unwinding: What to Know and How to Prepare, A Partner Education Monthly Series.” Dan Tsai, Director of Center for Center of Medicaid and CHIP Services, shared that despite not knowing if the Public Health Emergency (PHE) will conclude in mid-October or next year, the CMS message is for states, their partners and stakeholders to prepare and act now, so that beneficiaries maintain coverage.

Today CMS hosted the second meeting of “Medicaid and CHIP Continuous Enrollment Unwinding: What to Know and How to Prepare, A Partner Education Monthly Series.” When the PHE ends, states will have 12 months to conduct and resume regular operations for eligibility and determinations. CMS guidance encourages states to take as much of the 12 month time as possible, to make sure there is an orderly transition when the pandemic declaration ends. CMS’ Jessica Stephens shared that many Medicaid beneficiaries may not have been in contact with their Medicaid agencies over the past couple of years. State agencies need updated addresses and additional updated contact information so that individuals can complete the renewal process and ensure they retain their current coverage.

Guest presenters Jen Wagoner and Farah Erzouki from The Center on Budget and Priorities reviewed their recommendations from their brief “The Time to Get It Right: State Actions Now Can Preserve Medicaid Coverage When Public Health Emergency Ends” about the critical policy choices states need to make that will have a large impact on whether people become uninsured during this process, such as streamlining renewals processes and increasing the rates of automatic renewals.

CMS is emphasizing local trusted partner engagement with Medicaid beneficiaries and is coordinating a full-court press from an outreach standpoint. The website Medicaid Unwinding Resources provides guidance to states and stakeholders, including the communications toolkit. More recently, CMS launched a new beneficiary focused page called Medicaid.gov/renewals, where LeadingAge members can refer individuals enrolled in Medicaid to find information on their specific state agency as well as information on where they can go, for example, to update their contact information, to find out more, and to complete their renewals or re-determinations. CMS will continue to update the Medicaid.gov/renewals page as more is known more is known about when the public health emergency may end.

John Hammarlund, Deputy Director of CMS's Office of Program Operations and Local Engagement, shared that the 10 CMS Region Administrators look forward to partnering with stakeholders over the coming months to educate beneficiaries with Medicaid coverage about the necessary steps to renew their coverage, and to receive feedback in order to develop additional materials to help stakeholders with outreach and education efforts.

LeadingAge will continue to engage in PHE Unwinding developments so that the older adult Medicaid beneficiaries our members serve have the information and support that need to retain coverage.