State officials are trying to reach out to residents who may lose their Medicaid coverage because of changes in the federal rules.
Meanwhile, a survey released Wednesday by the Center for Popular Democracy along with several affiliates, including Make the Road Connecticut, found that while most responding were satisfied with the Medicaid services they received, organizers said many eligible Connecticut residents still struggle to enroll in and maintain coverage, or struggle to get access to services they need even if enrolled.
“As the public health emergency ends and Medicaid budgets are cut, our community lives are at stake. In addition to leaving the entire country feeling unsafe and unstable, the pandemic continues to affect the well-being of many people. Despite working multiple jobs, many people in our community still struggle to pay their medical bills,” said Wendy Cardenas, Organizing Director of Make The Road Connecticut, whose members work to advocate for immigrant and workers’ rights.
Affordable healthcare should be accessible to all, regardless of income levels or background, Cardenas said.
In March 2020, Medicaid coverage was extended for residents – even if they no longer qualified – due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a process the federal government referred to as Continuous Enrollment. But as of March 31, the process has ended. Now yearly evaluations of a household’s eligibility will resume.
The “Continuous Enrollment Unwinding” process will take place over a year. Notices will go out to those who need to take some kind of action to stay enrolled.
Giovanni Pinto, a spokesman for the state Department of Social Services, said that as of March, DSS estimated that around 428,000 individuals in 254,000 households had Medicaid coverage extended under the continuous enrollment provision.
“A portion of the population will be able to be automatically renewed through data matches that we perform as part of the eligibility process. Others will need to provide updated information for us to evaluate eligibility,” Pinto said.
DSS has been focusing on outreach and media campaigns to make sure residents are aware of the changes and what they need to do to keep their benefits, according to Pinto.
“As is always the case, we have a mix of people who are coming in and getting new eligibility evaluations and others who are not,” Pinto said.
Pinto said it is vital for residents who get notices about their coverage to read them carefully and respond to them. He added that people should contact Access Health CT and DSS to see what they can qualify for, even if they have other insurance, adding there are many ways to qualify for HUSKY Health, the state’s health coverage program.
“There are many ways to qualify for HUSKY and there are other no-cost or low-cost options available through Access Health CT, including the new no-cost Covered CT program for people with income that is too high for HUSKY,” Pinto said.
Residents should also make sure the state knows of any updated address or phone information.
Those who no longer qualify for HUSKY Health, can shop for health coverage through Access Health CT. Those that need to choose a new health coverage option may enroll before the end of their Medicaid coverage to avoid any gaps. They will also have 120 days to enroll after the loss of Medicaid coverage.
Access Health CT is going to hold various enrollment fairs in June to help HUSKY Health customers impacted by the Continuous Enrollment Unwinding. The fairs – there will be three in Meriden, Norwich, and Waterbury – will be free to attend.
The state Department of Insurance, although it does not have jurisdiction over Medicaid, nonetheless has set up a process to funnel any questions they get to Access Health CT and DSS. The Social Services Department issued a consumer alert Wednesday on the matter, and will issue two more highlighting tips on choosing a health plan during the unwinding process, officials there said.
Access Health CT has expanded its hours in response to the unwinding process. The phone number to call is 1-855-805-4325 with hours scheduled for Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Details for the enrollment fairs are as follows:
- Waterbury: Wednesday, June 14, at New Opportunities, Inc., located at 232 N. Elm Street, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Register here
- Norwich: Thursday, June 15, at Otis Library, located at 261 Main St., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register here
- Meriden: Saturday, June 24, at Augusta Curtis Cultural Center, located at 175 E. Main St., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register here