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Texans Scramble To Keep Medicaid During Unwinding

During COVID, millions of Texans were able to stay on Medicaid. Now, they may be losing it.

It’s called “unwinding,” a banal term for losing access to life-saving medical care. During the early days of COVID, the federal government passed a law that allowed anyone already receiving Medicaid to stay on it through March 2023, no matter their circumstances. Two million more Texans were able to stay on Medicaid thanks to the rule.

Now that the law has expired and the state of emergency has ended, Texas is free to start kicking people off the rolls who don’t meet the state’s famously stingy requirement. Texas is by far the largest state to not participate in the Medicaid expansion when the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. As such, millions of Texans are caught between the dreaded gap between being eligible for state coverage and federal subsidies for marketplace insurance.

Notices should start going out this month informing Meidciad recipients whether they need to re-enroll.

The Houston Chronicle has put together a handy guide for Texans in danger of losing their coverage. Here are some basic tips.

*Check your mail. The notices will come in a yellow envelope. If you have previously signed up for electronic notifications, make sure that you also check your texts and email. Status can be checked at Your Texas Benefits or by calling 2-1-1.

*If you do receive a renewal notice, fill put all forms promptly and accurately and send them in as soon as possible. This can be done via mail or online at Your Texas Benefits.

*Make sure all contact information is up to date. You cannot maintain coverage by dodging contact.

Even with prompt and correct responses, millions of Texans are likely to be kicked off the rolls over the course of the year. The Medicaid rules were partially intended as a way to spur voters to see how expanding Medicaid could benefit them, in hopes that they would push state legislatures to fully join the ACA.

In Texas, the results have been a mixed bag. The last two legislative sessions did indeed contain more pushes to expand Medicaid, but few actually made it anywhere. Some minor expansions to post-partum enrollment were added, and anti-abortion activists have been pushing for more to account for the rollback of abortion access.

The biggest concern at the moment is that some families may not know they are losing coverage until the flu season starts or they have to get their children’s vaccinations before going back to school in August. It is imperative that all Texans currently receiving Medicaid confirm and renew their coverage before it is cancelled.

Texas remains the state with the highest number of uninsured people, including children. Nearly 20 percent of Texans lack coverage, mostly ethnic minorities and those under the poverty line. That number will increase with the unwinding until the state expands Medicaid.

Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner is an award-winning freelance journalist, the author of The Rook Circle, and a member of The Black Math Experiment. He lives in Houston where he spends most of his time investigating corruption and strange happenings. Jef has written for Houston Press, Free Press Houston, and Houston Chronicle.

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