Medicaid warns 5 states that they’ve made it too hard for residents to keep coverage


The federal government has put five states on notice that they make it too hard for people to stay on Medicaid. States share the expense of Medicaid with the federal government, and it’s often among their biggest budget items, so states have incentive to keep rolls thin. And when COVID-19 hit, states had to keep everyone on the rolls. But now that rule has expired. And many federal regulators say some states may be denying benefits to too many people. Montana Public Radio’s Austin Amestoy reports.

AUSTIN AMESTOY, BYLINE: During the pandemic, the number of people on Medicaid nationwide swelled to more than a quarter of the U.S. population. That’s in part because for three pandemic years, the federal government stopped making people prove that their incomes remained low enough to be eligible for Medicaid coverage.

AUTOMATED VOICE: You have reached the Montana Public Assistance Helpline.

AMESTOY: Kelly Whithorn (ph) is trying to get back on Medicaid in Montana.

AUTOMATED VOICE: To speak with someone, press zero.


AMESTOY: Whithorn is 42 and lives in a small town north of Yellowstone National Park. She found out she lost coverage in July when her pharmacist told her Medicaid was no longer paying for her heart failure medications. Now she has to put that $700 a month on her credit card.

KELLY WHITHORN: It was just like a punch in the gut.

AMESTOY: Whithorn has spent countless hours trying to get a real person to pick up the phone so she can prove her income hasn’t changed and she’s still eligible.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Did you know that you can request a callback so that you don’t have to wait on hold?

Source: Medicaid warns 5 states that they’ve made it too hard for residents to keep coverage / KWBU 103.3

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