SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — More than 47,000 people in Illinois have lost their Medicaid coverage after a pandemic-era extension on their eligibility ended last week.
The federal government paused the yearly renewal process because of the public health emergency, keeping people on Medicaid throughout the pandemic. But now, the renewal process is restarting, and people have to show they are still eligible.
“Everybody kind of has to get back in the groove again, of knowing that they need to watch for letters from the state, have their eligibility checked again,” said Stephanie Altman of the Shriver Center on Poverty Law. “And a lot of people have either never done it before, so they don’t know how, or have forgotten.”
The Illinois Department of Family and Health Services started to send out renewal notices as the pause came to an end. Of the 47,000 who lost coverage, 13,000 were no longer eligible, but 34,000 either didn’t respond and show proof of their eligibility or didn’t provide additional information to the state.
“We expected that, just due to the fact that it hasn’t happened in three years, we might have a higher number of people who would lose coverage,” Altman said.
“One of the concerns we have is ‘Is our information getting to you?” said Sergio Obregon, a Special Assistant to the HFS Director for the Division of Eligibility. “So let’s be proactive and make sure that they have the opportunities to be able to update their address and update their contact information. Our top priority is making sure everyone who is eligible maintains their coverage.”
People who didn’t respond can still get their coverage reinstated if they send in their required information within 90 days.
“If they had to go to the doctor in between, or something came up and they had to go to the hospital, their coverage would be reinstated,” said HFS Chief of Staff Ben Winick. “So they would actually have no gap in coverage within that 90-day period.”
To make sure people are ready to renew, HFS wants people to go online and set up their account, make sure their address is up to date and find their due date so they know when they will get their renewal material.
“We are laser focused on wanting to maintain coverage for everyone that that continues to be eligible,” Winick said.
Nationwide, the federal government estimated that 700,000 people will lose their Medicaid coverage this year.