The government-declared that the “pandemic health emergency” ends at the end of March, along with the mandated guarantee of Medicaid coverage for anyone enrolled. The eligibility requirements and regulations will return to individual state control. This means that tens of millions of people may no longer meet the criteria to be covered by Medicaid, or they will lose coverage due to unfinished paperwork while states sort out who is and who is not covered.
This will disproportionately affect non-English speakers and poor communities that are forced to jump through the many confusing hoops of the process. The Biden administration has given states one year to sort through and mail renewal paperwork to everyone enrolled in Medicaid, requiring individuals to return income and eligibility information. If people have moved, do not receive the letter, or are not able to respond, they will be at risk of losing coverage even if they are still eligible. Many state and local offices are also short-staffed to handle this mountain of paperwork and administrative reviews, none of which were necessary for the last three years.
Estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation show that the added funds to states that guaranteed coverage during the pandemic total about $60 billion over the last three years. Compare that to the $300 billion in emergency funds provided to bail out banks and companies over just the last week during the Silicon Valley Bank crash.
In whose world does it make sense to bail out large corporations and banks, while removing the guarantee of basic needs, like healthcare, to ordinary people? Only in a capitalist’s world! One that prioritizes profits over our lives. The pandemic relief, while it was put in place for disastrous reasons, showed us that we don’t need the huge piles of paperwork or administrative barriers to get basic healthcare coverage. In fact, the pandemic-era measures led to better coverage and access to health care overall.