House members have continued to look closely at the declining enrollment numbers for the state’s Medicaid system. This week House Speaker Elijah Haahr met with MO HealthNet Director Todd Richardson to receive an update regarding the drop in the number of children enrolled in Medicaid.
As a result of the meeting, Speaker Haahr learned that the decrease in caseloads is not a surprise to the department, especially now that the new renewal computer system has had a full year to complete the Annual Review Process. The department anticipated a drop in enrollment in part because of changes in 2016 to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), when the Medicaid caseload was at its high-water mark. These changes combined with an improved economy have lowered the Medicaid caseload similar to numbers before the ACA took effect in 2014. The Speaker learned this change is consistent with other state assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which have fallen below its 2014 level.
The Speaker also learned that from 2014 to 2018, a previous administration did not robustly verify eligibility requirements of individuals on an annual basis. This led to the automatic renewal of a significant number of enrollees, many of whom did not qualify for assistance. With new software, the comprehensive review is performing a needed cleanup of those who are not eligible for Medicaid benefits.
The department assured Speaker Haahr that anyone who applies for Medicaid and meets the eligibility requirements will receive services. If someone loses Medicaid coverage, they can apply at any time to explore eligibility for immediate and prior quarter coverage. There are more than 263 entities statewide who can determine presumptive eligibility, meaning Missourians can receive immediate Medicaid coverage.
Following the meeting, Speaker Haahr said he was “pleased to know Missouri generously provides a greater window for its annual review process than is required by the federal government, allowing our citizens additional time for the department to communicate with enrollees of the required annual renewal.”
He also expressed appreciation for the department’s candor in their need to improve call center performance.
He added, “I have asked Director Richardson to do what he can or let me know how the General Assembly can expedite the transition to provide Missourians with tools that will make sure our children are not stuck on bureaucratic hold to receive basic medical care.”
As always, it is an honor to serve you.
Allen Andrews, State Representative - District 1, Missouri State Capitol, 201 West Capitol Avenue, Jefferson City, MO 65101. Telephone: 573-751-9465
Allen Andrews is the First District State Representative.