(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — Today, the Arkansas Department of Human Services is reporting updated figures reflecting the second month of redeterminations as part of its required by law six-month effort to unwind the Medicaid rolls following President Biden’s ending of the Public Health Emergency (PHE). The continuous enrollment requirement during the PHE prevented DHS from removing most ineligible individuals from Medicaid, but normal eligibility rules resumed on April 1. DHS is now working to comply with these normal eligibility rules, which are set by Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The latest figures are included in the report at the bottom of this release. There are several important considerations that provide context to this new data:
- Wherever possible, eligible beneficiaries have their coverage renewed through an automated process that involves passively checking data against existing sources rather than actively requiring any new information be submitted. These renewals, called ex parte, are efficient and eliminate the need for beneficiaries to respond at all if they are confirmed to still be eligible. DHS is using these reviews at a higher level than ever before – in May, more than 29,000 beneficiaries had their cases renewed using this automated, efficient method.
- For beneficiaries who receive renewal packets via mail, they are sent multiple notices before being disenrolled – first asking them to provide necessary information for their redetermination, and later advising them that their case is going to close if they are found to be ineligible or if they do not respond. In addition to mailings that go to all beneficiaries up for renewal, DHS attempts to reach beneficiaries by text, email, and/or phone when possible.
- The disenrollments announced today follow more than a year of outreach leading up to the end of the PHE, during which DHS made calls to recipients, met with numerous providers, partners, and stakeholder groups, conducted awareness campaigns about the need to update addresses and watch for renewal letters, engaged paid advertising, and more.
- Special emphasis has been made throughout this process on reaching families with children covered by Medicaid, including: providing lists of patients at risk of being disenrolled to pediatricians; sending materials to be distributed to families through school districts, school nurses, agency partners, and libraries; calling families covered by ARKids directly, and partnering with community-based organizations across the state, including many that directly serve children and families.
These significant efforts to reach Medicaid beneficiaries ahead of these disenrollments should not be discounted because of the number of beneficiaries whose coverage ended due to failing to return a renewal packet. It is expected that beneficiaries who are no longer eligible for Medicaid will be disenrolled through this unwinding process. While some of these individuals will return their renewal packet and confirm that they no longer qualify, it is likely that many others simply will not return their packet because they are aware that their case will close given their change in circumstances. So a closure because of a procedural reason does not mean that the packet was not received or that the beneficiary was unaware of this process. In fact, extensive efforts have been made – and are continuing to be made – to ensure that Medicaid recipients know what to expect. Among cases due in each month, procedural closures declined from 55,488 in April to 34,847 in May – a decline of more than 37 percent.
It is important to note that DHS is redetermining eligibility for large numbers of beneficiaries who would have been disenrolled during the PHE if not for the continuous coverage requirement that was in place. It is not surprising that this group of beneficiaries whose coverage was extended because of this special rule would be disenrolled at a high rate now that that requirement is no longer in effect.
There are also safeguards in place to address the possible situation in which a qualifying beneficiary who should retain coverage did not return information and was removed from the rolls. Depending on their type of coverage, beneficiaries generally have 30 or 90 days after closure to provide the necessary information and have their coverage reinstated without any gap. Even if a beneficiary learns that coverage has ended after this window, he or she can reapply and, if eligible, may have retroactive coverage going back to the date of re-application.
DHS is required under state law to redetermine beneficiaries’ eligibility over six months. We will continue in subsequent months to swiftly disenroll individuals who are no longer eligible, as this ensures that Medicaid resources go to beneficiaries who truly need them. We also will continue to provide information to those who no longer qualify for Medicaid on how they can maintain health care coverage, such as through an employer plan or the federal health insurance marketplace.
Beneficiaries who need assistance can submit questions through ar.gov/accessanywhere, call 855-372-1084, or visit ar.gov/renew for additional information.