In a letter to the nation’s governors, Secretary Becerra announces new flexibilities HHS is offering states to minimize avoidable coverage losses among children and families.
Today, in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to expanding access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new flexibilities to help keep Americans covered as states resume Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) renewals. The new flexibilities were announced in a letter Secretary Becerra sent to the nation’s governors urging them to adopt all available flexibilities to minimize avoidable coverage losses among children and families.
“Nobody who is eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program should lose coverage simply because they changed addresses, didn’t receive a form, or didn’t have enough information about the renewal process,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We encourage states to utilize all available flexibilities to ensure children and families don’t lose coverage. We also urge states to join us in partnering with local governments, community organizations, and schools to reach people eligible for Medicaid and CHIP where they are.”
“CMS is committed to making sure people have the affordable, high-quality health coverage they need,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “I am deeply concerned about eligible losing coverage, and am urging states and partners to adopt the strategies we have outlined to help people renew their Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Plan coverage if they are eligible or link them to new health coverage. We will continue to monitor and work collaboratively with states, advocates, the health care industry and others to keep people covered.”
Building on flexibilities HHS offered to states well before renewals resumed, some of the new flexibilities announced today include:
- Allowing managed care plans to assist people with Medicaid with completing their renewal forms, including completing certain parts of the renewal forms on their behalf.
- Allowing states to delay an administrative termination for one month while the state conducts additional targeted outreach. This will give people more time to be reminded to fill out and return their renewal forms.
- Allowing pharmacies and community-based organizations to facilitate reinstatement of coverage for those who were recently disenrolled for procedural reasons based on presumptive eligibility criteria.
States have varied in the number and type of flexibilities they have adopted to date. A link to the waiver approvals is here: https://www.medicaid.gov/covid-19-phe-unwinding-section-1902e14a-waiver-approvals/index.html.
In his letter to the nation’s governors, Secretary Becerra also expressed particular concern that children who are still eligible for Medicaid or CHIP might lose coverage. He urged states to work with local governments, community-based organizations, schools, faith-based organizations and leaders, grocery stores, pharmacies, and anyone else in your communities who can help people understand the Medicaid and CHIP eligibility and renewal process – citing one school district that has started sending information home with students and holding community outreach events.
HHS, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), has worked extensively with state Medicaid agencies to provide guidance on federal requirements, develop strategies to make Medicaid and CHIP renewals easier for people, and troubleshoot operational issues. This has included partnering with health plans, health care providers, federally-qualified health centers, home visiting programs, early childhood providers, advocates, and civil rights, faith-based, health industry, employers, and other community-organizations.
A full list of all available flexibilities HHS is offering states is here: https://www.medicaid.gov/resources-for-states/downloads/state-strategies-to-prevent-procedural-terminations.pdf.