Host Heather Howard, a professor at Princeton University and former New Jersey Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, discusses the unprecedented transition with Kate McEvoy, Executive Director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, and Dr. Kemi Alli, a pediatrician and Chief Executive Officer of Henry J. Austin Health Center, a federally qualified health center in Trenton, New Jersey. They talk about strategies for maximizing continuity of coverage for consumers — along with who is most likely to slip through the cracks, the role of state health officials and health care providers, and the potential impact on public health.
For more than two years, states have maintained coverage of their Medicaid enrollees as a condition of receiving enhanced federal Medicaid funding under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, resulting in considerable increases in coverage for all Americans, including pregnant and postpartum individuals. When the federal Medicaid continuous coverage requirement expires, states will redetermine eligibility for nearly all Medicaid enrollees, including roughly 1.7 million people enrolled in a Medicaid or CHIP pregnancy eligibility group. This issue brief reviews proactive strategies that states can deploy to support postpartum individuals in maintaining health coverage and access to care when the Medicaid continuous coverage guarantee ends and beyond.
Medicaid enrollment has increased by over 10 million (or 15 percent) from February 2020 through February 2021 across all states since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. States have a clear imperative to center health equity as they plan for the end of the public health emergency (PHE) given that Black, Latino/a, and other people of color are most at risk of coverage loss. This expert perspective highlights strategies states can implement to ensure that the end of the PHE does not exacerbate already widespread racial and ethnic disparities in our health care system.