• More than 450 people no longer qualify for Wyoming Medicaid or Kid Care CHIP, partially due to age, residency or income. Thousands more are expected to lose coverage over the next nine months.
By Madelyn Beck, WyoFile.com
More than 450 people have so far lost health coverage through Wyoming Medicaid or Kid Care CHIP as the state moves away from pandemic-era measures, the state health department reported at the end of June. Thousands more are expected to lose coverage over the next nine months.
The largest factors in losing eligibility were age, residency and income, according to Wyoming Department of Health spokesperson Kim Deti.
The health department has estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 residents could lose access to Medicaid programs this year as it conducts a yearlong renewal process. Some free medical clinics expect the increase in uninsured residents to further strain resources.
That annual process was put on hold during the pandemic to ensure coverage for more people in exchange for a temporary increase in federal funding. Starting in April, Wyoming health officials began removing people who no longer qualify, but a more complete picture of these “procedural removals” is expected to come out next month.
Early reports from Montana show more than 70% of those at risk of losing coverage simply didn’t provide requested information to health officials.
Wyoming’s health department started updating people’s contact details back in March, the agency stated, to make sure those who are still eligible get the renewal notice.
“Because of the pause, our clients have not received these notices by mail over the last three years,” Lee Grossman, state Medicaid agent and senior WDH administrator, said in a March press release. “We know living situations may have changed during that time for many people.”
Income has been one of the largest factors in losing eligibility so far, but thousands of Wyomingites already fall into a “gap” where they make too much to qualify for Medicaid in the state but too little to afford private insurance. To shore up this gap, 41 states have expanded Medicaid, but Wyoming lawmakers have yet to do so, often citing concerns that the federal government won’t hold up its end of the bargain to help pay for it.
The state estimates Medicaid expansion would insure about 19,000 people over two years.
To ensure they get a renewal notice, Wyoming Medicaid enrollees can update their contact information at www.wesystem.wyo.gov or by calling 1-855-294-2127.
WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.