Preparing health center patients for the potential loss of Medicaid coverage

The national public health emergency around COVID-19 has officially ended, which means many policy flexibilities will end, thousands of community health centers will face a significant loss of funding and resources, and an estimated 15 million people will lose Medicaid coverage.

Already, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 has terminated the continuous enrollment provision for Medicaid, jump-starting the disenrollment of beneficiaries due to procedural reasons, so beneficiaries in Idaho, South Dakota, New Hampshire, and other states have already lost coverage.

The majority of health centers say this change in flexibilities will have a detrimental impact on patients, and will likely impact the most at-risk patients, including those with behavioral health disorders, those who are pregnant, and those with severe health conditions who can’t afford to lose coverage or experience gaps in care. While some will switch to an employer-sponsored plan or a marketplace health plan, many others will become uninsured – and this number is bound to rise if the Limit, Save, and Grow Act (LSGA) passes, requiring adults ages 19 to 55 to meet specific work requirements for eligibility.

While nothing can be done to stop this from happening, providers play an important role in supporting patients through this difficult process and ensure they don’t lose access to care.

“Making sure patients are able to get the care they need is critical,” says Loren Anthes, Head of Policy and Programs at Yuvo Health. “When working with patients, clinicians and community health centers should connect patients with Marketplace Navigators to help them think through their coverage options and prevent any interruption in care.”

Each state has a list of Navigator agencies (ex., navigator agencies in New York), which any patient — regardless of their existing coverage — can use to sort through their coverage options and better understand what services are available to them.

Here are some other steps you can take to support your patients…

  • Track these unwinding dates to see when coverage ends in your state.
  • Follow these tips and best practices.
  • Consider implementing a communications plan for notifying providers and patients of this change. Talk to your providers and patients about the upcoming deadlines.
  • Post these flyers (in English and Spanish) around the center.
  • Promote the news on your social media channels, website, or through other communications with patients, such as waiting lines on the phone or email communications.

Most importantly, talk openly with your patients and remind them that this is happening.

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