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Nearly 1 in 4 Adults Dumped From Medicaid Are Now Uninsured, Survey Finds
Fri, 12 Apr 2024 23:01:46 +0000

Nearly a quarter of adults disenrolled from Medicaid in the past year say they are now uninsured, according to a survey released Friday that details how tens of millions of Americans struggled to retain coverage in the government insurance program for low-income people after pandemic-era protections began expiring last spring.

The first national survey of adults whose Medicaid eligibility was reviewed during the unwinding found nearly half of people who lost their government coverage signed back up weeks or months later — suggesting they should never have been dropped in the first place.

While 23% reported being uninsured, an additional 28% found other coverage — through an employer, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, or health care for members of the military, the survey by KFF found.

“Twenty-three percent is a striking number especially when you think about the number of people who lost Medicaid coverage,” said Chima Ndumele, an associate professor of health policy at the Yale University School of Public Health.

Going without insurance even for a short period of time can lead people to delay seeking care and leave them at financial risk when they do.

Seven in 10 adults who were disenrolled during the unwinding process say they became uninsured at least temporarily when they lost their Medicaid coverage.

Adrienne Hamar, 49, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, said she struggled to enroll in an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan this winter after the state informed her that she and her two children no longer qualified for Medicaid. They had been enrolled since 2020. She said phone lines were busy at the state’s marketplace and she couldn’t complete the process online.

Hamar, who works as a home health aide, and her children were uninsured in March. But since April 1, they’ve been enrolled in a marketplace plan that, with the help of government subsidies, costs $50 a month for the family.

“I was very relieved,” she said. Unsure of their insurance status, Hamar said, her 23-year-old daughter delayed getting a dental checkup.

Hamar’s struggles were common, the survey found.

Of adults enrolled in Medicaid before the unwinding, about 35% who tried to renew their coverage described the process as difficult, and about 48% said it was at least somewhat stressful.

About 56% of those disenrolled say they skipped or delayed care or prescriptions while attempting to renew their Medicaid coverage.

“People’s current insurance status is likely to be very much in flux, and we would expect at least some of the people who say they are currently uninsured to reenroll in Medicaid — many say they are still trying — or enroll in other coverage within a short period of time,” said Jennifer Tolbert, a co-author of the KFF report and the director of KFF’s State Health Reform and Data Program.

The survey didn’t include children, and the KFF researchers said their findings therefore couldn’t be extrapolated to determine how the Medicaid unwinding has affected the overall U.S. uninsured rate, which hit a record low of 7.7% in early 2023. Nearly half of enrollees in Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program are children.

The unwinding, in which states are reassessing eligibility for Medicaid among millions of Americans who enrolled before or during the pandemic and dropping those who no longer qualify or did not complete the renewal process, won’t be completed until later this year. Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP grew to a record of nearly 94.5 million in April of last year, three years after the federal government prohibited states from cutting people from their rolls during the covid-19 public health emergency.

Nationally, states have disenrolled about 20 million people from Medicaid in the past year, most of them for procedural reasons such as failure to submit required paperwork. That number is expected to grow, as states have a few more months to redetermine enrollees’ eligibility.

Among adults who had Medicaid prior to the start of the unwinding, 83% retained their coverage or reenrolled, while 8% found other insurance and 8% were uninsured. The share left uninsured was larger in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA (17%) than in states that have (6%). Forty states have expanded Medicaid to cover everyone with an income under 138% of the federal poverty rate, or $31,200 for a family of four this year.

The KFF survey found that nearly 1 in 3 disenrolled adults discovered only when they sought health care — such as going to a doctor or a pharmacy — that they had been dropped from Medicaid.

Indira Navas of Miami found out that her 6-year-old son, Andres, had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program when she took him to a doctor appointment in March. She had scheduled Andres’ appointment months in advance and is frustrated that he remains uninsured and his therapy for anxiety and hyperactivity has been disrupted.

Navas said the state could not explain why her 12-year-old daughter, Camila, remained covered by Medicaid even though the children live in the same household with their parents.

“It doesn’t make sense that they would cover one of my children and not the other,” she said.

Kate McEvoy, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said the sheer volume of millions of people being redetermined for eligibility has overwhelmed some state call centers trying to support enrollees.

She said states have tried many ways to communicate with enrollees, including through public outreach campaigns, text, email, and apps. “Until the moment your coverage is at stake, it’s hard to penetrate people’s busy lives,” she said.

The KFF survey, of 1,227 adults who had Medicaid coverage in early 2023 prior to the start of the unwinding on April 1, 2023, was conducted between Feb. 15, 2024, and March 11, 2024. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

KFF Health News correspondent Daniel Chang contributed to this article.

KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling, and journalism. Learn more about KFF.

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Nearly 1 in 4 Adults Dumped From Medicaid Are Now Uninsured, Survey Finds
Fri, 12 Apr 2024 19:58:46 +0000

Nearly a quarter of adults disenrolled from Medicaid in the past year say they are now uninsured, according to a survey released Friday that details how tens of millions of Americans struggled to retain coverage in the government insurance program for low-income people after pandemic-era protections began expiring last spring.

The first national survey of adults whose Medicaid eligibility was reviewed during the unwinding found nearly half of people who lost their government coverage signed back up weeks or months later — suggesting they should never have been dropped in the first place.

While 23% reported being uninsured, an additional 28% found other coverage — through an employer, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, or health care for members of the military, the survey by KFF found.

“Twenty-three percent is a striking number especially when you think about the number of people who lost Medicaid coverage,” said Chima Ndumele, an associate professor of health policy at the Yale University School of Public Health.


Going without insurance even for a short period of time can lead people to delay seeking care and leave them at financial risk when they do.

Seven in 10 adults who were disenrolled during the unwinding process say they became uninsured at least temporarily when they lost their Medicaid coverage.

A woman with long brown hair takes a selfie while sitting in a car.Adrienne Hamar, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, lost her Medicaid coverage in February but was able to sign up for an Obamacare marketplace insurance plan in April. She was uninsured in March. Hamar had been enrolled in Medicaid since 2020. (Adrienne Hamar)

Adrienne Hamar, 49, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, said she struggled to enroll in an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan this winter after the state informed her that she and her two children no longer qualified for Medicaid. They had been enrolled since 2020. She said phone lines were busy at the state’s marketplace and she couldn’t complete the process online.

Hamar, who works as a home health aide, and her children were uninsured in March. But since April 1, they’ve been enrolled in a marketplace plan that, with the help of government subsidies, costs $50 a month for the family.

“I was very relieved,” she said. Unsure of their insurance status, Hamar said, her 23-year-old daughter delayed getting a dental checkup.

Hamar’s struggles were common, the survey found.

Of adults enrolled in Medicaid before the unwinding, about 35% who tried to renew their coverage described the process as difficult, and about 48% said it was at least somewhat stressful.

About 56% of those disenrolled say they skipped or delayed care or prescriptions while attempting to renew their Medicaid coverage.

“People’s current insurance status is likely to be very much in flux, and we would expect at least some of the people who say they are currently uninsured to reenroll in Medicaid — many say they are still trying — or enroll in other coverage within a short period of time,” said Jennifer Tolbert, a co-author of the KFF report and the director of KFF’s State Health Reform and Data Program.

The survey didn’t include children, and the KFF researchers said their findings therefore couldn’t be extrapolated to determine how the Medicaid unwinding has affected the overall U.S. uninsured rate, which hit a record low of 7.7% in early 2023. Nearly half of enrollees in Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program are children.

The unwinding, in which states are reassessing eligibility for Medicaid among millions of Americans who enrolled before or during the pandemic and dropping those who no longer qualify or did not complete the renewal process, won’t be completed until later this year. Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP grew to a record of nearly 94.5 million in April of last year, three years after the federal government prohibited states from cutting people from their rolls during the covid-19 public health emergency.

Nationally, states have disenrolled about 20 million people from Medicaid in the past year, most of them for procedural reasons such as failure to submit required paperwork. That number is expected to grow, as states have a few more months to redetermine enrollees’ eligibility.

Among adults who had Medicaid prior to the start of the unwinding, 83% retained their coverage or reenrolled, while 8% found other insurance and 8% were uninsured. The share left uninsured was larger in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA (17%) than in states that have (6%). Forty states have expanded Medicaid to cover everyone with an income under 138% of the federal poverty rate, or $31,200 for a family of four this year.

The KFF survey found that nearly 1 in 3 disenrolled adults discovered only when they sought health care — such as going to a doctor or a pharmacy — that they had been dropped from Medicaid.

A man takes a selfie of himself, a woman, and two children on a busy sidewalk.In March, Indira Navas (center), of Miami, learned that her 6-year-old son, Andres (below center), had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program but that her 12-year-old daughter, Camila (left), remained covered even though the children live in the same household with their parents. (Javier Ojeda)

Indira Navas of Miami found out that her 6-year-old son, Andres, had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program when she took him to a doctor appointment in March. She had scheduled Andres’ appointment months in advance and is frustrated that he remains uninsured and his therapy for anxiety and hyperactivity has been disrupted.

Navas said the state could not explain why her 12-year-old daughter, Camila, remained covered by Medicaid even though the children live in the same household with their parents.

“It doesn’t make sense that they would cover one of my children and not the other,” she said.

Kate McEvoy, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said the sheer volume of millions of people being redetermined for eligibility has overwhelmed some state call centers trying to support enrollees.

She said states have tried many ways to communicate with enrollees, including through public outreach campaigns, text, email, and apps. “Until the moment your coverage is at stake, it’s hard to penetrate people’s busy lives,” she said.

The KFF survey, of 1,227 adults who had Medicaid coverage in early 2023 prior to the start of the unwinding on April 1, 2023, was conducted between Feb. 15, 2024, and March 11, 2024. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

KFF Health News correspondent Daniel Chang contributed to this article.

Phil Galewitz:
pgalewitz@kff.org,
@philgalewitz

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Nearly 1 in 4 Adults Dumped From Medicaid Are Now Uninsured, Survey Finds
Fri, 12 Apr 2024 20:59:46 +0000

Nearly a quarter of adults disenrolled from Medicaid in the past year say they are now uninsured, according to a survey released Friday that details how tens of millions of Americans struggled to retain coverage in the government insurance program for low-income people after pandemic-era protections began expiring last spring.

The first national survey of adults whose Medicaid eligibility was reviewed during the unwinding found nearly half of people who lost their government coverage signed back up weeks or months later — suggesting they should never have been dropped in the first place.

While 23% reported being uninsured, an additional 28% found other coverage — through an employer, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, or health care for members of the military, the survey by KFF found.

“Twenty-three percent is a striking number especially when you think about the number of people who lost Medicaid coverage,” said Chima Ndumele, an associate professor of health policy at the Yale University School of Public Health.


Going without insurance even for a short period of time can lead people to delay seeking care and leave them at financial risk when they do.

Seven in 10 adults who were disenrolled during the unwinding process say they became uninsured at least temporarily when they lost their Medicaid coverage.

A woman with long brown hair takes a selfie while sitting in a car.Adrienne Hamar, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, lost her Medicaid coverage in February but was able to sign up for an Obamacare marketplace insurance plan in April. She was uninsured in March. Hamar had been enrolled in Medicaid since 2020. (Adrienne Hamar)

Adrienne Hamar, 49, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, said she struggled to enroll in an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan this winter after the state informed her that she and her two children no longer qualified for Medicaid. They had been enrolled since 2020. She said phone lines were busy at the state’s marketplace and she couldn’t complete the process online.

Hamar, who works as a home health aide, and her children were uninsured in March. But since April 1, they’ve been enrolled in a marketplace plan that, with the help of government subsidies, costs $50 a month for the family.

“I was very relieved,” she said. Unsure of their insurance status, Hamar said, her 23-year-old daughter delayed getting a dental checkup.

Hamar’s struggles were common, the survey found.

Of adults enrolled in Medicaid before the unwinding, about 35% who tried to renew their coverage described the process as difficult, and about 48% said it was at least somewhat stressful.

About 56% of those disenrolled say they skipped or delayed care or prescriptions while attempting to renew their Medicaid coverage.

“People’s current insurance status is likely to be very much in flux, and we would expect at least some of the people who say they are currently uninsured to reenroll in Medicaid — many say they are still trying — or enroll in other coverage within a short period of time,” said Jennifer Tolbert, a co-author of the KFF report and the director of KFF’s State Health Reform and Data Program.

The survey didn’t include children, and the KFF researchers said their findings therefore couldn’t be extrapolated to determine how the Medicaid unwinding has affected the overall U.S. uninsured rate, which hit a record low of 7.7% in early 2023. Nearly half of enrollees in Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program are children.

The unwinding, in which states are reassessing eligibility for Medicaid among millions of Americans who enrolled before or during the pandemic and dropping those who no longer qualify or did not complete the renewal process, won’t be completed until later this year. Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP grew to a record of nearly 94.5 million in April of last year, three years after the federal government prohibited states from cutting people from their rolls during the covid-19 public health emergency.

Nationally, states have disenrolled about 20 million people from Medicaid in the past year, most of them for procedural reasons such as failure to submit required paperwork. That number is expected to grow, as states have a few more months to redetermine enrollees’ eligibility.

Among adults who had Medicaid prior to the start of the unwinding, 83% retained their coverage or reenrolled, while 8% found other insurance and 8% were uninsured. The share left uninsured was larger in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA (17%) than in states that have (6%). Forty states have expanded Medicaid to cover everyone with an income under 138% of the federal poverty rate, or $31,200 for a family of four this year.

The KFF survey found that nearly 1 in 3 disenrolled adults discovered only when they sought health care — such as going to a doctor or a pharmacy — that they had been dropped from Medicaid.

A man takes a selfie of himself, a woman, and two children on a busy sidewalk.In March, Indira Navas (center), of Miami, learned that her 6-year-old son, Andres (below center), had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program but that her 12-year-old daughter, Camila (left), remained covered even though the children live in the same household with their parents. (Javier Ojeda)

Indira Navas of Miami found out that her 6-year-old son, Andres, had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program when she took him to a doctor appointment in March. She had scheduled Andres’ appointment months in advance and is frustrated that he remains uninsured and his therapy for anxiety and hyperactivity has been disrupted.

Navas said the state could not explain why her 12-year-old daughter, Camila, remained covered by Medicaid even though the children live in the same household with their parents.

“It doesn’t make sense that they would cover one of my children and not the other,” she said.

Kate McEvoy, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said the sheer volume of millions of people being redetermined for eligibility has overwhelmed some state call centers trying to support enrollees.

She said states have tried many ways to communicate with enrollees, including through public outreach campaigns, text, email, and apps. “Until the moment your coverage is at stake, it’s hard to penetrate people’s busy lives,” she said.

The KFF survey, of 1,227 adults who had Medicaid coverage in early 2023 prior to the start of the unwinding on April 1, 2023, was conducted between Feb. 15, 2024, and March 11, 2024. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

KFF Health News correspondent Daniel Chang contributed to this article.

Phil Galewitz:
pgalewitz@kff.org,
@philgalewitz

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Nearly 1 in 4 Adults Dumped From Medicaid Are Now Uninsured, Survey Finds
Fri, 12 Apr 2024 16:55:45 +0000

Nearly a quarter of adults disenrolled from Medicaid in the past year say they are now uninsured, according to a survey released Friday that details how tens of millions of Americans struggled to retain coverage in the government insurance program for low-income people after pandemic-era protections began expiring last spring.

The first national survey of adults whose Medicaid eligibility was reviewed during the unwinding found nearly half of people who lost their government coverage signed back up weeks or months later — suggesting they should never have been dropped in the first place.

While 23% reported being uninsured, an additional 28% found other coverage — through an employer, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, or health care for members of the military, the survey by KFF found.

“Twenty-three percent is a striking number especially when you think about the number of people who lost Medicaid coverage,” said Chima Ndumele, an associate professor of health policy at the Yale University School of Public Health.


Going without insurance even for a short period of time can lead people to delay seeking care and leave them at financial risk when they do.

Seven in 10 adults who were disenrolled during the unwinding process say they became uninsured at least temporarily when they lost their Medicaid coverage.

A woman with long brown hair takes a selfie while sitting in a car.Adrienne Hamar, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, lost her Medicaid coverage in February but was able to sign up for an Obamacare marketplace insurance plan in April. She was uninsured in March. Hamar had been enrolled in Medicaid since 2020. (Adrienne Hamar)

Adrienne Hamar, 49, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, said she struggled to enroll in an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan this winter after the state informed her that she and her two children no longer qualified for Medicaid. They had been enrolled since 2020. She said phone lines were busy at the state’s marketplace and she couldn’t complete the process online.

Hamar, who works as a home health aide, and her children were uninsured in March. But since April 1, they’ve been enrolled in a marketplace plan that, with the help of government subsidies, costs $50 a month for the family.

“I was very relieved,” she said. Unsure of their insurance status, Hamar said, her 23-year-old daughter delayed getting a dental checkup.

Hamar’s struggles were common, the survey found.

Of adults enrolled in Medicaid before the unwinding, about 35% who tried to renew their coverage described the process as difficult, and about 48% said it was at least somewhat stressful.

About 56% of those disenrolled say they skipped or delayed care or prescriptions while attempting to renew their Medicaid coverage.

“People’s current insurance status is likely to be very much in flux, and we would expect at least some of the people who say they are currently uninsured to reenroll in Medicaid — many say they are still trying — or enroll in other coverage within a short period of time,” said Jennifer Tolbert, a co-author of the KFF report and the director of KFF’s State Health Reform and Data Program.

The survey didn’t include children, and the KFF researchers said their findings therefore couldn’t be extrapolated to determine how the Medicaid unwinding has affected the overall U.S. uninsured rate, which hit a record low of 7.7% in early 2023. Nearly half of enrollees in Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program are children.

The unwinding, in which states are reassessing eligibility for Medicaid among millions of Americans who enrolled before or during the pandemic and dropping those who no longer qualify or did not complete the renewal process, won’t be completed until later this year. Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP grew to a record of nearly 94.5 million in April of last year, three years after the federal government prohibited states from cutting people from their rolls during the covid-19 public health emergency.

Nationally, states have disenrolled about 20 million people from Medicaid in the past year, most of them for procedural reasons such as failure to submit required paperwork. That number is expected to grow, as states have a few more months to redetermine enrollees’ eligibility.

Among adults who had Medicaid prior to the start of the unwinding, 83% retained their coverage or reenrolled, while 8% found other insurance and 8% were uninsured. The share left uninsured was larger in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA (17%) than in states that have (6%). Forty states have expanded Medicaid to cover everyone with an income under 138% of the federal poverty rate, or $31,200 for a family of four this year.

The KFF survey found that nearly 1 in 3 disenrolled adults discovered only when they sought health care — such as going to a doctor or a pharmacy — that they had been dropped from Medicaid.

A man takes a selfie of himself, a woman, and two children on a busy sidewalk.In March, Indira Navas (center), of Miami, learned that her 6-year-old son, Andres (below center), had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program but that her 12-year-old daughter, Camila (left), remained covered even though the children live in the same household with their parents. (Javier Ojeda)

Indira Navas of Miami found out that her 6-year-old son, Andres, had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program when she took him to a doctor appointment in March. She had scheduled Andres’ appointment months in advance and is frustrated that he remains uninsured and his therapy for anxiety and hyperactivity has been disrupted.

Navas said the state could not explain why her 12-year-old daughter, Camila, remained covered by Medicaid even though the children live in the same household with their parents.

“It doesn’t make sense that they would cover one of my children and not the other,” she said.

Kate McEvoy, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said the sheer volume of millions of people being redetermined for eligibility has overwhelmed some state call centers trying to support enrollees.

She said states have tried many ways to communicate with enrollees, including through public outreach campaigns, text, email, and apps. “Until the moment your coverage is at stake, it’s hard to penetrate people’s busy lives,” she said.

The KFF survey, of 1,227 adults who had Medicaid coverage in early 2023 prior to the start of the unwinding on April 1, 2023, was conducted between Feb. 15, 2024, and March 11, 2024. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

KFF Health News correspondent Daniel Chang contributed to this article.

Phil Galewitz:
pgalewitz@kff.org,
@philgalewitz

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California Fails to Adequately Help Blind and Deaf Prisoners, US Judge Rules
Sat, 13 Apr 2024 01:03:44 +0000

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Thirty years after prisoners with disabilities sued the state of California and 25 years after a federal court first ordered accommodations, a judge found that state prison and parole officials still are not doing enough to help deaf and blind prisoners — in part because they are not using readily available technology such as video recordings and laptop computers.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken’s rulings on March 20 centered on the prison system’s need to help deaf, blind, and low-vision prisoners better prepare for parole hearings, though the decisions are also likely to improve accommodations for hundreds of other prisoners with those disabilities.

“I believe I should have the same opportunity as hearing individuals,” a prisoner, deaf since birth, said in court documents.

The lawsuit is one of several class-action proceedings that have led the courts to assume oversight of the prison system’s treatment of those who are sick or suffer from mental illnesses.

“It is difficult not to despair,” a blind prisoner said in written testimony. “I am desperate for some kind of assistance that will let me prepare adequately for my parole hearing.”

The parole process can begin more than a year before an incarcerated person’s hearing and last long afterward. And the consequences of rejection are great: People denied parole typically must wait three to 15 years before they can try again.

Prisoners are expected to review their prison records and a psychologist’s assessment of whether they are at risk for future violence, write a release plan including housing and work plans, write letters of remorse, and prepare a statement to parole officials on why they should be released.

“It is a very time-consuming and important process,” said Gay Grunfeld, one of the attorneys representing about 10,000 prisoners with many different disabilities in the federal class-action lawsuit. “All of these tasks are harder if you are blind, low-vision, or deaf.”

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and its Board of Parole Hearings “remain committed to conducting fair hearings and ensuring access to the hearings for all participants. We are assessing the potential impact of the order and exploring available legal options,” said spokesperson Albert Lundeen.

The department counts more than 500 prisoners with serious vision problems and about 80 with severe hearing problems, though Grunfeld thinks both are undercounts.

California’s prison system has lagged in adopting technological accommodations that are commonly used in the outside world, Wilken found in her ruling.

For instance, California gives prisoners digital tablets that can be used for communications and entertainment, and since late 2021 has gradually been providing secure laptops to prisoners who are enrolled in college, GED, and high school diploma programs.

But officials balked at providing computers that Wilken decided are needed by some prisoners with disabilities. She required the department to develop a plan within 60 days of her order to, among many things, provide those individuals with laptops equipped with accommodations like screen magnification and software that can translate text to speech or Braille.

“It would make a huge difference to me to have equipment that would let me listen to and dictate written words, or produce written documents in another accessible manner,” testified the blind prisoner. He added that such accommodations “would finally let me properly prepare for my parole hearing with the privacy, independence, and dignity that all humans deserve.”

Similarly, California routinely uses video cameras during parole proceedings, including when it conducted hearings remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. But prison policy has prohibited videotaping the hearings, including sign language translations that some deaf prisoners rely on to understand the proceedings.

The deaf-since-birth prisoner, for example, testified that he also doesn’t speak, his primary method of communication is American Sign Language, and his English is so poor that written transcripts do him no good. He advocated for recorded sign language translations of the hearings and related documents that he could review whenever he wanted, in the same way that other inmates can review written text.

Wilken ordered prison officials to comply.

“They need to be able to watch it later, not read it later,” said Grunfeld. “It’s going to make a huge difference in the lives of deaf signers.”

The department recently acquired 100 portable electronic video magnifiers, at a cost of $1,100 each, that prisoners with low vision can check out to use in their cells. The technology will augment similar devices in prison libraries that prisoners say aren’t private and can be used only during libraries’ limited hours.

Wilken said officials acquired the magnifiers only after prodding by prisoners and their attorneys.

Grunfeld said the judge’s detailed order, which includes requirements like better assistance from attorneys, will “make sure that people with disabilities are on an equal footing as people who don’t have disabilities.”

“My colleagues and I have been working for several years to persuade CDCR to adopt this technology, and it’s been slow-going. But they’ve gradually accepted that they do need to do this,” Grunfeld said. “It’s long past due, but at least it’s coming.”

This article was produced by KFF Health News, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation

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As Bans Spread, Fluoride in Drinking Water Divides Communities Across the US
Sat, 13 Apr 2024 00:02:46 +0000

MONROE, N.C. — Regina Barrett, a 69-year-old retiree who lives in this small North Carolina city southeast of Charlotte, has not been happy with her tap water for a while.

“Our water has been cloudy and bubbly and looks milky,” said Barrett, who blames fluoride, a mineral that communities across the nation have for decades added to the water supply to help prevent cavities and improve dental health.

“I don’t want fluoride in my nothing!” said Barrett, echoing a growing number of people who not only doubt the mineral’s effectiveness but also believe it may be harmful despite decades of data pointing to public health and economic benefits.

In February, the Board of County Commissioners in Union County, whose seat is Monroe, voted 3-2 to stop adding fluoride to drinking water at the Yadkin River Water Treatment Plant, the only water source wholly owned and operated by the county. But the decision came after heated discussions among residents and county officials.

“My children had the blessing of growing up with fluoride in their water and … they have very little dental issues,” said Commissioner Richard Helms ahead of the vote. A fellow commissioner saw it differently: “Let’s stop putting something in the water that’s meant to treat us, and give people the freedom to choose,” said David Williams.

Barrett’s water comes from the city of Monroe, not the Yadkin facility. So, for now, she will continue to drink water enhanced with fluoride. “I’m suspicious as to why they add that to our water,” she told KFF Health News.

It is a scenario playing out nationwide. From Oregon to Pennsylvania, hundreds of communities have in recent years either stopped adding fluoride to their water supplies or voted to prevent its addition. Supporters of such bans argue that people should be given the freedom of choice. The broad availability of over-the-counter dental products containing the mineral makes it no longer necessary to add to public water supplies, they say. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that while store-bought products reduce tooth decay, the greatest protection comes when they are used in combination with water fluoridation.

The outcome of an ongoing federal case in California could force the Environmental Protection Agency to create a rule regulating or banning the use of fluoride in drinking water nationwide. In the meantime, the trend is raising alarm bells for public health researchers who worry that, much like vaccines, fluoride may have become a victim of its own success.

The CDC maintains that community water fluoridation is not only safe and effective but also yields significant cost savings in dental treatment. Public health officials say removing fluoride could be particularly harmful to low-income families — for whom drinking water may be the only source of preventive dental care.

“If you have to go out and get care on your own, it’s a whole different ballgame,” said Myron Allukian Jr., a dentist and past president of the American Public Health Association. Millions of people have lived with fluoridated water for years, “and we’ve had no major health problems,” he said. “It’s much easier to prevent a disease than to treat it.”

According to the anti-fluoride group Fluoride Action Network, since 2010, over 240 communities around the world have removed fluoride from their drinking water or decided not to add it.

One needs only to look to Union County to see just how intense discussions can be. Usually when the commissioners meet on the first floor of the Government Center in downtown Monroe, there are more vacant seats than attendees. But sessions about the prohibition of fluoride in public water supplies were packed, and residents who signed up to speak were divided.

One person who came to the microphone on Feb. 5 compared water fluoridation to a seat belt. It does not “prevent the car crash, but it limits the harm done,” he said. Another argued that there is no proof fluoride is safe or effective. “It’s a significant potential milestone to reverse 60-plus years of poisoning the public,” he said, using an unproven claim often made by opponents of fluoridation.

Fluoride opponents claim the mineral is responsible for everything from acne to high blood pressure and thyroid dysfunction to bone cancer.

The National Institutes of Health acknowledges that, when ingested in extremely large amounts, fluoride from dental products or dietary supplements can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bone pain, and even death in extremely rare cases.

Infants and children who receive too much fluoride can develop discoloration or small dents in their teeth. In adults, consumption of excessive fluoride for extended periods can lead to skeletal fluorosis, a very rare condition that causes joint pain and stiffness, weak bones, muscle loss, and nerve problems.

However, the recommended dosage in drinking water has always been small. In 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services lowered the optimal fluoride concentration from 1.2 milligrams per liter to 0.7 mg/L.

Juneau, Alaska, voted to remove fluoride from its drinking water in 2007. A study published in the journal BMC Oral Health in 2018 compared the dental records of children and adolescents who received dental care for decaying teeth four years before and five years after the city stopped adding fluoride to the water. Cavity-related procedures and treatment costs were significantly higher in the latter group, the study found.

Portland, Oregon, is the largest city in the nation that has consistently refused to fluoridate its drinking water. Voters have repeatedly rejected measures to add it, first in 1956 and the latest time in 2013.

Despite the strong recommendation of local doctors and dentists, voters in Wichita, Kansas, have rejected adding fluoride to the water several times, most recently in 2012.

The Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District in Williamson County, Texas, had been adding fluoride to its water system since 2007 but ended the practice in December.

In 2016, Collier County, Florida, commissioners opted not to remove fluoride from the water system. But they unanimously reversed that decision following a 2023 Health Freedom Bill of Rights county ordinance in response to covid-19 “to safeguard the healthcare rights and freedoms of Collier County residents.”

The State College Borough Water Authority in Pennsylvania stopped adding fluoride to the water of its 75,000 customers in March 2023. Officials used claims often cited by fluoride opponents, such as potential environmental contamination, concerns about medical freedom, and possible adverse health effects, like the potential for the appearance of faint white lines on the teeth and lowered IQ for babies.

A study published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2019, conducted in six Canadian cities, associated fluoride exposure during pregnancy with lower IQ scores in children. But the study was based on self-reporting and has been criticized for its perceived methodological shortcomings.

In 2016, several consumer advocacy groups, including the Fluoride Action Network, Food & Water Watch, and Moms Against Fluoridation, petitioned the EPA to end water fluoridation under the Toxic Substances Control Act, alleging that significant research showed fluoride was neurotoxic at the doses now used. The same group filed a federal lawsuit against the EPA the following year, after the agency denied their citizen petition.

During a 10-day bench trial in San Francisco that concluded in mid-February, the two sides debated the risks and areas of uncertainty. If Senior U.S. District Judge Edward Chen determines water fluoridation presents an “unreasonable risk” to human health, the EPA will be forced to create a rule regulating or banning water fluoridation in the U.S. A decision is expected soon.

For the time being, decisions about whether to fluoridate community water systems are still made primarily at the local level, which Barrett hopes will change.

“Of all things, they want our teeth healthy when basic needs of housing and food are lacking.”

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Nearly 1 in 4 Adults Dumped From Medicaid Are Now Uninsured, Survey Finds
Fri, 12 Apr 2024 22:00:47 +0000

Nearly a quarter of adults disenrolled from Medicaid in the past year say they are now uninsured, according to a survey released Friday that details how tens of millions of Americans struggled to retain coverage in the government insurance program for low-income people after pandemic-era protections began expiring last spring.

The first national survey of adults whose Medicaid eligibility was reviewed during the unwinding found nearly half of people who lost their government coverage signed back up weeks or months later — suggesting they should never have been dropped in the first place.

While 23% reported being uninsured, an additional 28% found other coverage — through an employer, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, or health care for members of the military, the survey by KFF found.

“Twenty-three percent is a striking number especially when you think about the number of people who lost Medicaid coverage,” said Chima Ndumele, an associate professor of health policy at the Yale University School of Public Health.


Going without insurance even for a short period of time can lead people to delay seeking care and leave them at financial risk when they do.

Seven in 10 adults who were disenrolled during the unwinding process say they became uninsured at least temporarily when they lost their Medicaid coverage.

A woman with long brown hair takes a selfie while sitting in a car.Adrienne Hamar, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, lost her Medicaid coverage in February but was able to sign up for an Obamacare marketplace insurance plan in April. She was uninsured in March. Hamar had been enrolled in Medicaid since 2020. (Adrienne Hamar)

Adrienne Hamar, 49, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, said she struggled to enroll in an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan this winter after the state informed her that she and her two children no longer qualified for Medicaid. They had been enrolled since 2020. She said phone lines were busy at the state’s marketplace and she couldn’t complete the process online.

Hamar, who works as a home health aide, and her children were uninsured in March. But since April 1, they’ve been enrolled in a marketplace plan that, with the help of government subsidies, costs $50 a month for the family.

“I was very relieved,” she said. Unsure of their insurance status, Hamar said, her 23-year-old daughter delayed getting a dental checkup.

Hamar’s struggles were common, the survey found.

Of adults enrolled in Medicaid before the unwinding, about 35% who tried to renew their coverage described the process as difficult, and about 48% said it was at least somewhat stressful.

About 56% of those disenrolled say they skipped or delayed care or prescriptions while attempting to renew their Medicaid coverage.

“People’s current insurance status is likely to be very much in flux, and we would expect at least some of the people who say they are currently uninsured to reenroll in Medicaid — many say they are still trying — or enroll in other coverage within a short period of time,” said Jennifer Tolbert, a co-author of the KFF report and the director of KFF’s State Health Reform and Data Program.

The survey didn’t include children, and the KFF researchers said their findings therefore couldn’t be extrapolated to determine how the Medicaid unwinding has affected the overall U.S. uninsured rate, which hit a record low of 7.7% in early 2023. Nearly half of enrollees in Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program are children.

The unwinding, in which states are reassessing eligibility for Medicaid among millions of Americans who enrolled before or during the pandemic and dropping those who no longer qualify or did not complete the renewal process, won’t be completed until later this year. Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP grew to a record of nearly 94.5 million in April of last year, three years after the federal government prohibited states from cutting people from their rolls during the covid-19 public health emergency.

Nationally, states have disenrolled about 20 million people from Medicaid in the past year, most of them for procedural reasons such as failure to submit required paperwork. That number is expected to grow, as states have a few more months to redetermine enrollees’ eligibility.

Among adults who had Medicaid prior to the start of the unwinding, 83% retained their coverage or reenrolled, while 8% found other insurance and 8% were uninsured. The share left uninsured was larger in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA (17%) than in states that have (6%). Forty states have expanded Medicaid to cover everyone with an income under 138% of the federal poverty rate, or $31,200 for a family of four this year.

The KFF survey found that nearly 1 in 3 disenrolled adults discovered only when they sought health care — such as going to a doctor or a pharmacy — that they had been dropped from Medicaid.

A man takes a selfie of himself, a woman, and two children on a busy sidewalk.In March, Indira Navas (center), of Miami, learned that her 6-year-old son, Andres (below center), had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program but that her 12-year-old daughter, Camila (left), remained covered even though the children live in the same household with their parents. (Javier Ojeda)

Indira Navas of Miami found out that her 6-year-old son, Andres, had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program when she took him to a doctor appointment in March. She had scheduled Andres’ appointment months in advance and is frustrated that he remains uninsured and his therapy for anxiety and hyperactivity has been disrupted.

Navas said the state could not explain why her 12-year-old daughter, Camila, remained covered by Medicaid even though the children live in the same household with their parents.

“It doesn’t make sense that they would cover one of my children and not the other,” she said.

Kate McEvoy, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said the sheer volume of millions of people being redetermined for eligibility has overwhelmed some state call centers trying to support enrollees.

She said states have tried many ways to communicate with enrollees, including through public outreach campaigns, text, email, and apps. “Until the moment your coverage is at stake, it’s hard to penetrate people’s busy lives,” she said.

The KFF survey, of 1,227 adults who had Medicaid coverage in early 2023 prior to the start of the unwinding on April 1, 2023, was conducted between Feb. 15, 2024, and March 11, 2024. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

KFF Health News correspondent Daniel Chang contributed to this article.

Phil Galewitz:
pgalewitz@kff.org,
@philgalewitz

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Nearly 1 in 4 Adults Dumped From Medicaid Are Now Uninsured, Survey Finds
Fri, 12 Apr 2024 15:54:47 +0000

Nearly a quarter of adults disenrolled from Medicaid in the past year say they are now uninsured, according to a survey released Friday that details how tens of millions of Americans struggled to retain coverage in the government insurance program for low-income people after pandemic-era protections began expiring last spring.

The first national survey of adults whose Medicaid eligibility was reviewed during the unwinding found nearly half of people who lost their government coverage signed back up weeks or months later — suggesting they should never have been dropped in the first place.

While 23% reported being uninsured, an additional 28% found other coverage — through an employer, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, or health care for members of the military, the survey by KFF found.

“Twenty-three percent is a striking number especially when you think about the number of people who lost Medicaid coverage,” said Chima Ndumele, an associate professor of health policy at the Yale University School of Public Health.


Going without insurance even for a short period of time can lead people to delay seeking care and leave them at financial risk when they do.

Seven in 10 adults who were disenrolled during the unwinding process say they became uninsured at least temporarily when they lost their Medicaid coverage.

A woman with long brown hair takes a selfie while sitting in a car.Adrienne Hamar, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, lost her Medicaid coverage in February but was able to sign up for an Obamacare marketplace insurance plan in April. She was uninsured in March. Hamar had been enrolled in Medicaid since 2020. (Adrienne Hamar)

Adrienne Hamar, 49, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, said she struggled to enroll in an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan this winter after the state informed her that she and her two children no longer qualified for Medicaid. They had been enrolled since 2020. She said phone lines were busy at the state’s marketplace and she couldn’t complete the process online.

Hamar, who works as a home health aide, and her children were uninsured in March. But since April 1, they’ve been enrolled in a marketplace plan that, with the help of government subsidies, costs $50 a month for the family.

“I was very relieved,” she said. Unsure of their insurance status, Hamar said, her 23-year-old daughter delayed getting a dental checkup.

Hamar’s struggles were common, the survey found.

Of adults enrolled in Medicaid before the unwinding, about 35% who tried to renew their coverage described the process as difficult, and about 48% said it was at least somewhat stressful.

About 56% of those disenrolled say they skipped or delayed care or prescriptions while attempting to renew their Medicaid coverage.

“People’s current insurance status is likely to be very much in flux, and we would expect at least some of the people who say they are currently uninsured to reenroll in Medicaid — many say they are still trying — or enroll in other coverage within a short period of time,” said Jennifer Tolbert, a co-author of the KFF report and the director of KFF’s State Health Reform and Data Program.

The survey didn’t include children, and the KFF researchers said their findings therefore couldn’t be extrapolated to determine how the Medicaid unwinding has affected the overall U.S. uninsured rate, which hit a record low of 7.7% in early 2023. Nearly half of enrollees in Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program are children.

The unwinding, in which states are reassessing eligibility for Medicaid among millions of Americans who enrolled before or during the pandemic and dropping those who no longer qualify or did not complete the renewal process, won’t be completed until later this year. Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP grew to a record of nearly 94.5 million in April of last year, three years after the federal government prohibited states from cutting people from their rolls during the covid-19 public health emergency.

Nationally, states have disenrolled about 20 million people from Medicaid in the past year, most of them for procedural reasons such as failure to submit required paperwork. That number is expected to grow, as states have a few more months to redetermine enrollees’ eligibility.

Among adults who had Medicaid prior to the start of the unwinding, 83% retained their coverage or reenrolled, while 8% found other insurance and 8% were uninsured. The share left uninsured was larger in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA (17%) than in states that have (6%). Forty states have expanded Medicaid to cover everyone with an income under 138% of the federal poverty rate, or $31,200 for a family of four this year.

The KFF survey found that nearly 1 in 3 disenrolled adults discovered only when they sought health care — such as going to a doctor or a pharmacy — that they had been dropped from Medicaid.

A man takes a selfie of himself, a woman, and two children on a busy sidewalk.In March, Indira Navas (center), of Miami, learned that her 6-year-old son, Andres (below center), had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program but that her 12-year-old daughter, Camila (left), remained covered even though the children live in the same household with their parents. (Javier Ojeda)

Indira Navas of Miami found out that her 6-year-old son, Andres, had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program when she took him to a doctor appointment in March. She had scheduled Andres’ appointment months in advance and is frustrated that he remains uninsured and his therapy for anxiety and hyperactivity has been disrupted.

Navas said the state could not explain why her 12-year-old daughter, Camila, remained covered by Medicaid even though the children live in the same household with their parents.

“It doesn’t make sense that they would cover one of my children and not the other,” she said.

Kate McEvoy, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said the sheer volume of millions of people being redetermined for eligibility has overwhelmed some state call centers trying to support enrollees.

She said states have tried many ways to communicate with enrollees, including through public outreach campaigns, text, email, and apps. “Until the moment your coverage is at stake, it’s hard to penetrate people’s busy lives,” she said.

The KFF survey, of 1,227 adults who had Medicaid coverage in early 2023 prior to the start of the unwinding on April 1, 2023, was conducted between Feb. 15, 2024, and March 11, 2024. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

KFF Health News correspondent Daniel Chang contributed to this article.

Phil Galewitz:
pgalewitz@kff.org,
@philgalewitz

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Nearly 1 in 4 Adults Dumped From Medicaid Are Now Uninsured, Survey Finds
Fri, 12 Apr 2024 18:57:45 +0000

Nearly a quarter of adults disenrolled from Medicaid in the past year say they are now uninsured, according to a survey released Friday that details how tens of millions of Americans struggled to retain coverage in the government insurance program for low-income people after pandemic-era protections began expiring last spring.

The first national survey of adults whose Medicaid eligibility was reviewed during the unwinding found nearly half of people who lost their government coverage signed back up weeks or months later — suggesting they should never have been dropped in the first place.

While 23% reported being uninsured, an additional 28% found other coverage — through an employer, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, or health care for members of the military, the survey by KFF found.

“Twenty-three percent is a striking number especially when you think about the number of people who lost Medicaid coverage,” said Chima Ndumele, an associate professor of health policy at the Yale University School of Public Health.


Going without insurance even for a short period of time can lead people to delay seeking care and leave them at financial risk when they do.

Seven in 10 adults who were disenrolled during the unwinding process say they became uninsured at least temporarily when they lost their Medicaid coverage.

A woman with long brown hair takes a selfie while sitting in a car.Adrienne Hamar, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, lost her Medicaid coverage in February but was able to sign up for an Obamacare marketplace insurance plan in April. She was uninsured in March. Hamar had been enrolled in Medicaid since 2020. (Adrienne Hamar)

Adrienne Hamar, 49, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, said she struggled to enroll in an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan this winter after the state informed her that she and her two children no longer qualified for Medicaid. They had been enrolled since 2020. She said phone lines were busy at the state’s marketplace and she couldn’t complete the process online.

Hamar, who works as a home health aide, and her children were uninsured in March. But since April 1, they’ve been enrolled in a marketplace plan that, with the help of government subsidies, costs $50 a month for the family.

“I was very relieved,” she said. Unsure of their insurance status, Hamar said, her 23-year-old daughter delayed getting a dental checkup.

Hamar’s struggles were common, the survey found.

Of adults enrolled in Medicaid before the unwinding, about 35% who tried to renew their coverage described the process as difficult, and about 48% said it was at least somewhat stressful.

About 56% of those disenrolled say they skipped or delayed care or prescriptions while attempting to renew their Medicaid coverage.

“People’s current insurance status is likely to be very much in flux, and we would expect at least some of the people who say they are currently uninsured to reenroll in Medicaid — many say they are still trying — or enroll in other coverage within a short period of time,” said Jennifer Tolbert, a co-author of the KFF report and the director of KFF’s State Health Reform and Data Program.

The survey didn’t include children, and the KFF researchers said their findings therefore couldn’t be extrapolated to determine how the Medicaid unwinding has affected the overall U.S. uninsured rate, which hit a record low of 7.7% in early 2023. Nearly half of enrollees in Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program are children.

The unwinding, in which states are reassessing eligibility for Medicaid among millions of Americans who enrolled before or during the pandemic and dropping those who no longer qualify or did not complete the renewal process, won’t be completed until later this year. Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP grew to a record of nearly 94.5 million in April of last year, three years after the federal government prohibited states from cutting people from their rolls during the covid-19 public health emergency.

Nationally, states have disenrolled about 20 million people from Medicaid in the past year, most of them for procedural reasons such as failure to submit required paperwork. That number is expected to grow, as states have a few more months to redetermine enrollees’ eligibility.

Among adults who had Medicaid prior to the start of the unwinding, 83% retained their coverage or reenrolled, while 8% found other insurance and 8% were uninsured. The share left uninsured was larger in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA (17%) than in states that have (6%). Forty states have expanded Medicaid to cover everyone with an income under 138% of the federal poverty rate, or $31,200 for a family of four this year.

The KFF survey found that nearly 1 in 3 disenrolled adults discovered only when they sought health care — such as going to a doctor or a pharmacy — that they had been dropped from Medicaid.

A man takes a selfie of himself, a woman, and two children on a busy sidewalk.In March, Indira Navas (center), of Miami, learned that her 6-year-old son, Andres (below center), had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program but that her 12-year-old daughter, Camila (left), remained covered even though the children live in the same household with their parents. (Javier Ojeda)

Indira Navas of Miami found out that her 6-year-old son, Andres, had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program when she took him to a doctor appointment in March. She had scheduled Andres’ appointment months in advance and is frustrated that he remains uninsured and his therapy for anxiety and hyperactivity has been disrupted.

Navas said the state could not explain why her 12-year-old daughter, Camila, remained covered by Medicaid even though the children live in the same household with their parents.

“It doesn’t make sense that they would cover one of my children and not the other,” she said.

Kate McEvoy, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said the sheer volume of millions of people being redetermined for eligibility has overwhelmed some state call centers trying to support enrollees.

She said states have tried many ways to communicate with enrollees, including through public outreach campaigns, text, email, and apps. “Until the moment your coverage is at stake, it’s hard to penetrate people’s busy lives,” she said.

The KFF survey, of 1,227 adults who had Medicaid coverage in early 2023 prior to the start of the unwinding on April 1, 2023, was conducted between Feb. 15, 2024, and March 11, 2024. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

KFF Health News correspondent Daniel Chang contributed to this article.

Phil Galewitz:
pgalewitz@kff.org,
@philgalewitz

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Nearly 1 in 4 Adults Dumped From Medicaid Are Now Uninsured, Survey Finds
Fri, 12 Apr 2024 17:56:45 +0000

Nearly a quarter of adults disenrolled from Medicaid in the past year say they are now uninsured, according to a survey released Friday that details how tens of millions of Americans struggled to retain coverage in the government insurance program for low-income people after pandemic-era protections began expiring last spring.

The first national survey of adults whose Medicaid eligibility was reviewed during the unwinding found nearly half of people who lost their government coverage signed back up weeks or months later — suggesting they should never have been dropped in the first place.

While 23% reported being uninsured, an additional 28% found other coverage — through an employer, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, or health care for members of the military, the survey by KFF found.

“Twenty-three percent is a striking number especially when you think about the number of people who lost Medicaid coverage,” said Chima Ndumele, an associate professor of health policy at the Yale University School of Public Health.


Going without insurance even for a short period of time can lead people to delay seeking care and leave them at financial risk when they do.

Seven in 10 adults who were disenrolled during the unwinding process say they became uninsured at least temporarily when they lost their Medicaid coverage.

A woman with long brown hair takes a selfie while sitting in a car.Adrienne Hamar, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, lost her Medicaid coverage in February but was able to sign up for an Obamacare marketplace insurance plan in April. She was uninsured in March. Hamar had been enrolled in Medicaid since 2020. (Adrienne Hamar)

Adrienne Hamar, 49, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, said she struggled to enroll in an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan this winter after the state informed her that she and her two children no longer qualified for Medicaid. They had been enrolled since 2020. She said phone lines were busy at the state’s marketplace and she couldn’t complete the process online.

Hamar, who works as a home health aide, and her children were uninsured in March. But since April 1, they’ve been enrolled in a marketplace plan that, with the help of government subsidies, costs $50 a month for the family.

“I was very relieved,” she said. Unsure of their insurance status, Hamar said, her 23-year-old daughter delayed getting a dental checkup.

Hamar’s struggles were common, the survey found.

Of adults enrolled in Medicaid before the unwinding, about 35% who tried to renew their coverage described the process as difficult, and about 48% said it was at least somewhat stressful.

About 56% of those disenrolled say they skipped or delayed care or prescriptions while attempting to renew their Medicaid coverage.

“People’s current insurance status is likely to be very much in flux, and we would expect at least some of the people who say they are currently uninsured to reenroll in Medicaid — many say they are still trying — or enroll in other coverage within a short period of time,” said Jennifer Tolbert, a co-author of the KFF report and the director of KFF’s State Health Reform and Data Program.

The survey didn’t include children, and the KFF researchers said their findings therefore couldn’t be extrapolated to determine how the Medicaid unwinding has affected the overall U.S. uninsured rate, which hit a record low of 7.7% in early 2023. Nearly half of enrollees in Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program are children.

The unwinding, in which states are reassessing eligibility for Medicaid among millions of Americans who enrolled before or during the pandemic and dropping those who no longer qualify or did not complete the renewal process, won’t be completed until later this year. Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP grew to a record of nearly 94.5 million in April of last year, three years after the federal government prohibited states from cutting people from their rolls during the covid-19 public health emergency.

Nationally, states have disenrolled about 20 million people from Medicaid in the past year, most of them for procedural reasons such as failure to submit required paperwork. That number is expected to grow, as states have a few more months to redetermine enrollees’ eligibility.

Among adults who had Medicaid prior to the start of the unwinding, 83% retained their coverage or reenrolled, while 8% found other insurance and 8% were uninsured. The share left uninsured was larger in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA (17%) than in states that have (6%). Forty states have expanded Medicaid to cover everyone with an income under 138% of the federal poverty rate, or $31,200 for a family of four this year.

The KFF survey found that nearly 1 in 3 disenrolled adults discovered only when they sought health care — such as going to a doctor or a pharmacy — that they had been dropped from Medicaid.

A man takes a selfie of himself, a woman, and two children on a busy sidewalk.In March, Indira Navas (center), of Miami, learned that her 6-year-old son, Andres (below center), had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program but that her 12-year-old daughter, Camila (left), remained covered even though the children live in the same household with their parents. (Javier Ojeda)

Indira Navas of Miami found out that her 6-year-old son, Andres, had been disenrolled from Florida’s Medicaid program when she took him to a doctor appointment in March. She had scheduled Andres’ appointment months in advance and is frustrated that he remains uninsured and his therapy for anxiety and hyperactivity has been disrupted.

Navas said the state could not explain why her 12-year-old daughter, Camila, remained covered by Medicaid even though the children live in the same household with their parents.

“It doesn’t make sense that they would cover one of my children and not the other,” she said.

Kate McEvoy, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said the sheer volume of millions of people being redetermined for eligibility has overwhelmed some state call centers trying to support enrollees.

She said states have tried many ways to communicate with enrollees, including through public outreach campaigns, text, email, and apps. “Until the moment your coverage is at stake, it’s hard to penetrate people’s busy lives,” she said.

The KFF survey, of 1,227 adults who had Medicaid coverage in early 2023 prior to the start of the unwinding on April 1, 2023, was conducted between Feb. 15, 2024, and March 11, 2024. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

KFF Health News correspondent Daniel Chang contributed to this article.

Phil Galewitz:
pgalewitz@kff.org,
@philgalewitz

Category: Latest