MassHealth expecting ‘pretty steep uptick’ in disenrollments

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About 76,000 people have been removed from the MassHealth rolls since March, and officials continue to forecast the biggest impacts are around the corner as a massive reevaluation of eligibility ramps up this fall.

MassHealth published the latest monthly summary of its year-long redetermination effort Friday, showing that another 48,000 people lost MassHealth coverage in September. That was offset by about 18,000 new enrollees and 6,300 people who rejoined the publicly funded health insurance program after previously losing coverage.

September saw fewer disenrollments than in either of the previous two months — and less than the average monthly amount before the COVID-19 pandemic — but officials said they view the change as “normal fluctuation.”

“You will see an increase in disenrollments as we head into the fall and winter. That is typically the time of the year when we see the most disenrollments because we time many of our renewals with open enrollment with the [Massachusetts Health] Connector,” Assistant Secretary for MassHealth Mike Levine said. “We know that in the months ahead, beginning in October, we really are going to see a pretty steep uptick in disenrollments.”

For the first time, officials also offered a glimpse at how many Bay Staters retained MassHealth coverage after being subjected to redetermination. About 60% of MassHealth members younger than 65 who went through a full reassessment remained enrolled in the program, which combines Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program under a single umbrella.

“This does not mean that we expect 40% of members to lose coverage,” MassHealth Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth LaMontagne said, noting that the estimate excludes populations that are “highly likely” to renew and that more older adults in particular are expected to be automatically renewed in the coming months.

Massachusetts is now six months into a year-long campaign to reassess eligibility for all 2.4 million people who were on the MassHealth rolls at the outset. The Healey administration originally projected the effort would decrease enrollment by a net 300,000 to 400,000 members, saving $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2024 that could be spent elsewhere. Officials said those estimates have not changed.

The federal government prohibited kicking people off of Medicaid during the pandemic, but that policy ended this year, requiring all 50 states to embark on a similar redetermination of their programs.

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