JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For the first time in three years, the state’s social services department will be renewing Missourians on Medicaid to continue coverage.
There are currently around 1.6 million people on Medicaid in Missouri. Since March 2020, states have been prohibited from reverifying if participants are still eligible. With many renewing for the first time, the Department of Social Services (DSS) hopes to make it as easy as possible.
“I don’t want people to worry that we’re just going to open the system and thousands of people are going to lose their coverage day one, that is not going to happen,” Director of the Family Support Services under DSS Kim Evans said.
Before the public health emergency, there were around 900,000 Missourians on Medicaid. Since then, the number has nearly doubled. Evans said for three years, her staff has not been allowed to remove anyone from the program except when for a participant died, moved out of state or was asked to be taken off.
“In the middle of the public health emergency, we also expanded Medicaid and so that’s brought on another 370,000 plus individuals into our coverage, so that’s why our caseload is so high right now,” Evans said.
Missouri voters approved to expand Medicaid in 2020. The department start allowing the expansion group into the program in July 2021.
Starting April 1, Missouri will have one year to complete the task of reassessing the eligibility of every enrollee. DSS estimates that up to 300,000 Missourians could lose coverage through the renewal process.
“Once we run the redetermination, we might have changes in income, there may have been changes in households, it has been three years since we’ve touched them and the pandemic has caused a lot of different movements within households,” Evans said.
Evans said the department will try to renew participants using existing data, called ex-parte, before contacting Missourians to complete forms themselves. Then, in May, decisions letters will be sent out.
“As those forms are coming back to us, we will process them, and then we have until the end of June to process those annual renewals,” Evans said. “If we cannot verify the information or the information that we verified causes total ineligibility for the programs, we’re going to send you an annual renewal form, and you have to have that form back to us by the end of June.”
For example, if someone is in the renewal group for June but receives a return form in May, but does not return the form, he or she would lose coverage starting July 1.
Also in May, a customer service portal will go live to help enrollees keep up with the renewal process. Evans said participants’ renewal date will be the anniversary month of when they enrolled in Medicaid. There’s also resources centers located in every country and multiple locations in metro areas.
“For the participant, just watch your mail and watch your contact information and if you have questions, please ask,” Evans said. “We’re trying to ease everyone’s fears. We’re working really hard to try and prevent any breaks in coverage for those that remain eligible.”
Evans said that if an enrollee misses their deadline, he or she has to contact DSS to re-enroll.
“There is a process where you have 90 days to contact us, and we reopen that case and reconsider your coverage,” Evans said. “That doesn’t mean you’re going to be eligible, it just means we’re going to look and verify all of your information to ensure that you’re eligible.”
If someone is no longer eligible for Medicaid, Evans said DSS will work to connect them to the federal marketplace for alternative coverage.
For more information about the renewal process, visit DSS’ website.