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Thousands could be impacted by end of Medicaid pandemic public health relief
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Primary Care Physician Dr. Janice Bacon with Central Miss. Health Services, conducting a back to school physical at the Community Health Center on the campus of Tougaloo College in Jackson, Aug. 2020
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Mississippi health advocates are concerned thousands of people could be removed from the state’s Medicaid rolls next year.  That’s when pandemic public health emergency relief is expected to end.

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Thousands more Mississippians were added to the Medicaid rolls since the COVID-19 pandemic began.  Healthcare advocates say there are nearly 800,000 enrolled in the program.  But they're concerned people who are eligible will loss their insurance coverage when the pandemic public health relief ends, which may happen in June of next year.  Dr. Erica Thompson with Magnolia Medical Foundation, speaking with advocates discusses the challenges of outreach.

“Many of the recipients may have moved, lost their housing or contact information may not be the same,” Thompson said.

Thompson says it’s important advocacy groups be proactive and have strategies to reach out to recipients and work with the state Division of Medicaid.  Garrett Hall is with Families USA, a national non-partisan advocate for healthcare. In a webinar, he says 59 percent of Mississippi’s Medicaid recipients in 2019 were black. Hall says those who risk losing coverage will be predominantly people of color.

“We are potentially looking at the largest Medicaid losses in the history of the program and we really need your help.

"This is where all your work on the ground is going to come in if we’re going to be able to get through this with less Medicaid losses it will be because of the work you all do,” Hall said.

Hall says states will have 12 months after the public health emergency ends to go through the redetermination process.  Healthcare advocates say the Mississippi division of Medicaid is waiting for guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.