In a significant move to bolster healthcare coverage for children in Missouri, Medicaid has adopted a new policy that promises a year of continuous eligibility for eligible children, regardless of any changes in their family’s status.
This policy, set to go into effect on January 1, 2024, aims to provide a more stable and consistent healthcare safety net for children and reduce disruptions in their coverage.
The decision was made after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a directive to Missouri officials in September, mandating continuous coverage for eligible children.
The continuous eligibility policy was discussed at a recent MO HealthNet Oversight Committee Meeting and has garnered positive responses from various stakeholders.
Caitlin Whaley, a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Social Services, explained the new policy’s workings, stating, “Once the state has made an eligibility determination, regardless of whatever changes might happen in that family’s circumstance over 12 months, that child will retain their eligibility.”
Missouri Expands Medicaid Coverage for Children
To illustrate, if a family is found eligible for Medicaid in October but experiences changes in their circumstances, such as a parent securing a new job that renders them ineligible for coverage in January, the child’s coverage will remain in effect until the family’s annual renewal process occurs the following October.
Sheldon Weisgrau, the Vice President of Health Policy and Advocacy at the Missouri Foundation for Health, praised the continuous eligibility policy, describing it as a significant step in the right direction for Missouri.
Weisgrau highlighted the importance of children maintaining consistent coverage, especially for essential healthcare needs like doctor visits, treatment for common ailments, and preventive care.
Weisgrau also pointed out that coverage gaps are often more likely to impact children of color, making continuous coverage a crucial tool in addressing healthcare inequities and reducing coverage disparities.
Missouri is fully prepared to implement these changes, ensuring that the policy serves its intended purpose of reducing children’s healthcare coverage disruptions. The primary goal is to promote continuity of care for children, ensuring they can access essential medical services, therapy, and vaccines.
This decision comes as Missouri is in the process of renewing Medicaid coverage after the pandemic-related evaluation pause. Caitlin Whaley clarified that the continuous eligibility policy does not impact the ongoing reevaluation process for Medicaid eligibility.
Missouri’s reevaluation process began in June, and so far, data from the state Department of Social Services indicates that 52,706 children have lost their Medicaid coverage.
These losses are primarily attributed to “procedural reasons,” such as parents lacking the necessary documentation or being unreachable by state authorities during renewal.
Whaley emphasized the importance of communication and urged individuals to check their mail and respond to state department inquiries during renewal to ensure that eligible children maintain their Medicaid coverage and benefit from the new continuous eligibility policy.