Department of Social Services Addresses Medicaid Enrollment Drop


In a letter sent Monday to Republican House Speaker Elijah Haahr, the Department of Social Services sought to explain why close to 90,000 children and 23,000 adults have lost Medicaid coverage since July 2018. Acting Social Services Director Jennifer Tidball stated that part of the drop in Medicaid enrollment numbers was attributed to a decrease in unemployment in the state. Tidball also cited improved efforts beginning in 2018 to purge Medicaid rolls of people who are not eligible, and stated that nearly one-third of people who lost coverage didn't answer letters to renew their eligibility.  She also noted that the agency was increasing staffing in its call center as the department was not satisfied with call wait times.

But Democratic House Minority Leader Crystal Quade said she is still not satisfied with the agency's explanation and is concerned Social Services is struggling to reach people to reauthorize their Medicaid enrollment.

The controversy comes as several groups gained approval to gather signatures for a number of initiative petition efforts to expand Medicaid for individuals ages 19 to 64 with an income level at or below 133% of the federal poverty level. The vote on expansion would be on the November 2020 ballot if groups gather sufficient signatures. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 directed states to expand their Medicaid programs, although a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 made that optional. To date, 36 states have expanded Medicaid. Missouri is among 14 states, including Kansas and Oklahoma, that have not expanded the program.

August 23, 2019 - 10:53am

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