Chiquita Brooks-LaSure testifies before the Senate Finance Committee during her nomination hearing to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Washington on Thursday, April 15, 2021.
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The Biden administration on Thursday called on companies to help keep their employees insured as millions of people across the US suddenly covered through Medicaid.
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who leads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told employers in a letter that workers who have lost Medicaid coverage should be allowed to enroll in group health plans at any time over the next year via a special enrollment period.
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Companies are required to give employees a minimum of 60 days to enroll in their group health plans. Brooks-LaSure said, however, this isn’t enough time given how many people are suddenly losing Medicaid coverage.
More than 3 million people have lost Medicaid since April, when coverage protections that Congress put in place during the Covid-19 public health emergency expired, according to KFF, a nonprofit that researches health issues.
Medicaid is the health insurance program for lower income individuals. The program is heavily financed by the federal government but is largely administered by the states.
Congress had barred states from disenrolling people from Medicaid during the pandemic in exchange for a boost in funding. Medicaid coverage surged to a historic high of more than 86 million people by March 2023, a 35% increase over February 2020.
With the expiration of these protections, states are now reviewing people’s eligibility for the first time in three years and millions are losing their health insurance as a result.
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Many people may have missed notices from state agencies that their Medicaid coverage has been terminated, and do not realize that they are no longer insured until they visit a doctor, Brooks-LaSure said Thursday.
The Health and Human Services Department has estimated that 3.8 million people who are expected to lose Medicaid coverage are eligible for insurance through an employer. Another 2.7 million people who are expected to lose Medicaid are eligible for subsidized insurance through the Affordable Care Act market places.
CMS has set up a special enrollment period for people to enroll in subsidized coverage through Affordable Care Act insurance market places through July 2024.