By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator
Louisiana pulled Medicaid coverage from almost 107,000 residents over the first two months of the program’s massive disenrollment process, but state health officials have previously said many of those people may only be cut temporarily.
Almost 51,000 people were removed from Medicaid at the end of June and 56,000 people were dropped at the end of July, according to a spreadsheet the Louisiana Department of Health provided this week. Figures for August and the first half of September have not been released yet.
Medicaid provides government-sponsored health care coverage to people who are low-income, pregnant or have a disability.
Over three-quarters of those who were cut in Louisiana, 82,000 people, were taken out of Medicaid for “procedural” reasons, including not responding to prompts to reenroll. About 25,000 were removed because they no longer met income eligibility requirements, according to the information released.
Louisiana and other states have started to cull Medicaid rolls again after a three-year pause. In exchange for COVID-19 assistance, the federal government prohibited states from taking people off Medicaid from March 2020 to May 2023. Louisiana’s program grew by 450,000 enrollees during that time period.
Now the state must catch up and force thousands of people from the program on a compressed schedule.
There is an ongoing concern children might fall through the cracks. It’s not clear what percentage of the people losing Medicaid in Louisiana are minors. In the first wave of removals, approximately a third of people affected were younger than 18, but an updated count hasn’t been provided yet.
In Louisiana, the removals will take place on a monthly basis over most of the next year. The federal government requires states to try to reach a Medicaid participant multiple times before dropping them.
At the end of last month, the federal government announced several states had wrongfully removed children from Medicaid because of a “glitch” in their automated systems. Louisiana hasn’t been affected by this hiccup, health department spokesman Kevin Litten said Thursday.