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Amid expiration of federal protections some 600,000 Arizona Medicaid plan holders need to apply

Who are these folks with expiring coverage? Healthcare experts report about half of them are likely children coming from single-parent households. (File Photos/
As federal protections expire 600,000 Arizona Medicaid plan holders need to apply
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

Provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which prevents states from removing Medicaid recipients during a public health emergency, have expired whereas here in Arizona it is estimated 600,000 people have expiring coverage.

Who are these folks with expiring coverage? Healthcare experts report about half of them are likely children coming from single-parent households.

Medicaid is the single largest source of coverage for American children, with 54.3% of all children in the country enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, a report from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families says.

“The potential impact of the unwinding process could double the nation’s uninsured rate for children if not handled well and worsen existing racial disparities in access to health coverage and care,” the Georgetown report says. “Families with high levels of recent residential instability, limited English proficiency, or limited internet access are at greater risk of losing coverage.”

Medicare is federal health insurance for anyone age 65 and older, and some people under 65 with certain disabilities or conditions. Medicaid, however, is a joint federal and state program that gives health coverage to some people with limited income and resources, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System is the state agency that administers Arizona’s Medicaid program. At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona there is Marla Bauer who leads the department of individual growth and marketing.

“Before the pandemic those who were on a Medicaid direct access were required to maintain an annual application to determine if they are still eligible for those plans,” she told the Arizona Digital Free Press. “At the state level those who were eligible for those plans, the state was not allowed to terminate any of those members. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is over those protections have expired.”

As the macro and microeconomics of the world restarted in the last 24 months, Ms. Bauer explains those who still need assistance for healthcare ought to make sure they are up to date with reinstated application requirements.

“All of this started on April 1 where Medicaid agencies are now able to review members,” she explained of the business of healthcare coverage. “The good news, if there is any here, many will likely be able to stay on Medicaid. They just need to update their eligibility information.”

Ms. Bauer says the federal program is unfolding a metered approach to removing Americans from Medicaid coverage.

“Access isn’t going to remove everyone at once what they will do is look at issuing removal sometime around their enrollment date as they don’t want to create a crisis situation with people not being able to be insured,” she pointed out.

Of note: To find a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona health insurance plan, go HERE. You an also call 844-756-2583 to find out if you and your family are eligible for a Medicaid plan.

Medicaid is for the children

Ms. Bauer explains the majority of membership in the Medicaid program in Arizona are young families.

“There are a lot of resources for these folks as about half are children,” she said. “There are different eligibility requirements that give them [healthcare operators] leeway as you will see a lot of single parents with children. A lot of the time, it is the parent who needs to find new coverage.”

A staggering amount of applications submitted to Medicaid providers here in Arizona are eligible for federal healthcare assistance, according to Ms. Bauer.

“Four out of five people who apply tend to qualify for help,” Ms. Bauer said of the program reaching its targeted audience. “That is a pretty high rate for any program.”

It’s been speculated that between 40-60% of those at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage are likely to remain on AHCCCS, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona report.

“We have a website that offers up very specific information and an estimation form where applicants can look at the different plans,” Ms. Bauer explained. “If they are more comfortable calling in, they can do that. We offer services if English is not the primary language and we can accommodate with interpreters over the phone up to 15 languages.

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