HHS Takes More Actions to Keep People Covered as States Take Back Medicaid, CHIP Renewals

Letter to US Governors from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on Medicaid restatements

In a letter to the nation’s governors, Secretary Becerra announces new flexibilities HHS offers states to minimize avoidable coverage losses among children and families.

Today, in support of the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to expand access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new flexibilities to help maintain Americans covered as states resume Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Renewals (CHIP). The new flexibilities were announced in a letter Secretary Becerra sent to the governors of nations, urging them to adopt all available flexibilities to minimize avoidable coverage losses among children and families.

No one who is eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program should lose coverage simply because they changed their address, didn’t receive a form, or didn’t have enough information about the renewal process, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. We encourage states to use all available flexibilities to ensure that children and families do not lose coverage. We also urge states to join us in working with local governments, community organizations and schools to reach people who are Medicaid and CHIP eligible wherever they are.

CMS is committed to ensuring that people have the high-quality, affordable health care coverage they need, said CMS Chiquita Administrator Brooks-LaSure. I am deeply concerned about the loss of eligible coverage and am urging states and partners to adopt the strategies we have outlined to help people renew their Medicaid coverage and children’s health insurance plan if they are eligible or connect them to new coverage healthcare. We will continue to monitor and work collaboratively with states, advocates, the health care industry and others to keep people covered.

Building on the flexibilities HHS offered to states well before renewals resumed, some of the new flexibilities announced today include:

  • Allow managed care plans to assist people with Medicaid with filling out renewal forms, including filling out certain parts of the renewal forms on their behalf.
  • Allow states to delay an administrative termination for one month while the state conducts further targeted outreach efforts. This will give people more time to remember to fill out and return renewal forms.
  • Enable pharmacies and community-based organizations to facilitate the reinstatement of coverage for those who were recently discontinued on procedural grounds based on presumed eligibility criteria.

States have varied in the number and type of flexibilities they have adopted to date. A link to the waiver approvals is here: https://www.medicaid.gov/covid-19-phe-unwinding-section-1902e14a-waiver-approvals/index.html.

In his letter to the nations’ governors, Secretary Becerra also expressed particular concern that children who are still eligible for Medicaid or CHIP could lose coverage. She urged states to work with local governments, community-based organizations, schools, religious organizations and leaders, grocery stores, pharmacies, and anyone else in your communities who can help people understand the eligibility process and renewal of Medicaid and CHIP citing a school district that has begun sending information home with students and organizing community outreach events.

HHS, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), has worked extensively with state Medicaid agencies to provide guidance on federal requirements, develop strategies to make Medicaid and CHIP renewals easier for people, and resolve operational issues. This has included working with health plans, health care providers, federally qualified health centers, home visiting programs, early childhood providers, attorneys and civil rights, religious, health care industry, employers and other community organizations.

A complete list of all of the available flexibilities that HHS offers to states is here: https://www.medicaid.gov/resources-for-states/downloads/state-strategies-to-prevent-procedural-terminations.pdf.

An All Hands On Deck fact sheet is here and the call to action from All Hands on Deck partners is here.

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