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Medicaid has dropped more than 50,000 Mississippians during unwinding

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Workers at a Medicaid call center review information regarding eligibility determinations on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 in Jefferson City, Mo. Federal Medicaid officials have raised concerns that call center wait times are too long in 16 states, including Missouri. States are handling an influx of questions after a pandemic-era moratorium on removing people from Medicaid ended this spring.
(AP Photo/David A. Lieb)

More than 50,000 Mississippians have been removed from the state's Medicaid rolls during an "unwinding" process that began in April after COVID-era protections against disenrollment ended. 

Will Stribling

Medicaid has dropped more than 50,000 Mississippians during unwinding


According to data from Georgetown University, 4 out of 5 Mississippians who have lost Medicaid coverage during this period did due to procedural issues, like failure to return paperwork.

Dr. John Gaudet, a pediatrician and Associate Professor of Political Sciences at William Carey University, says something as simple as an incorrect forwarding address can lead to someone losing their health coverage. 

“Something of that nature is almost like an insignificant type of occurrence,” Gaudet said. “ It happens a lot of time to people in their everyday lives, but losing their healthcare is a huge consequence for that.”

Mississippi Medicaid has used a “Stay Covered” outreach campaign that included mailers, texts and emails to make people aware of the unwinding process. People can also fill out their renewal form online.

Still, these disenrollments have the potential to affect vulnerable communities like children from low-income families. Between June and July more than 18,000 children were removed from Mississippi's Medicaid rolls. 

Gaudet says sending out paper forms to hundreds of thousands of Medicaid enrollees just isn't an efficient system, and the state should better utilize other methods to determine eligibility. One of those methods is "ex parte" renewals, where information from sources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is used to automatically verify Medicaid eligibility. 

“We need to look at other states whose procedural disenrollments are smaller and lower, and see what the what steps that we can take here in Mississippi,” Gaudet said.

States have until May 2024 to complete the unwinding process.