States may not terminate Medicaid benefits during coronavirus pandemic

Access to affordable medical care is especially important during a health crisis. One of the bills passed by Congress in response to the coronavirus pandemic increases Medicaid funding for states and includes a provision preventing states that accept the additional money from terminating Medicaid benefits while the current emergency continues.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services has declared a nationwide public health emergency for COVID-19. In light of that, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides that if you were enrolled in Medicaid as of March 18, 2020, the state (provided it accepted expanded Medicaid funds during the crisis) cannot terminate your benefits even if there is a change in your circumstances that would normally cause your benefits to be stopped. The law states that your Medicaid coverage must continue through the end of the month in which the Secretary declares that the public emergency has ended. The only exceptions to this non-termination rule are if you choose to terminate your benefits yourself or you move to another state.

States that already terminated a Medicaid recipient’s benefits should be contacting recipients and encouraging them to reenroll. If the state determined that you were “presumptively eligible” for benefits before March 18, 2020, this rule does not apply to you, and the state may terminate your benefits if it eventually concludes you are not eligible for benefits. However, if you have coverage because you are appealing a decision of ineligibility that was made before March 18, 2020, the state cannot terminate your benefits during the health emergency.

If you have questions about Medicaid eligibility during the health emergency, contact your attorney.

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