Legislative Update: Low-Income Seniors At Risk of Losing Medicaid Coverage As States Trim Rolls

Legislative Update: Low-Income Seniors At Risk of Losing Medicaid Coverage As States Trim Rolls

By Daisy Brown, TSCL Legislative Liaison

Millions of the lowest–income and most vulnerable older Americans are undergoing an unprecedented nationwide review of Medicaid enrollees. Every state in the nation has been trimming Medicaid rolls since the COVID-19 emergency ended. During the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government barred states from removing anyone deemed ineligible for Medicaid. Now those emergency rules have ended, and states are required to remove those whose incomes are too high to remain eligible.

TSCL believes millions of seniors will be impacted and we are highly concerned about the extent of confusion and errors this undertaking will likely create. For example, about four out of ten older Americans received some form of low-income assistance in 2022, such as SNAP, rental subsidies, or help with Medicare costs (paid through Medicaid), according to the findings of TSCL’s Senior Survey conducted January through May of this year. In addition, nearly three-quarters of those currently receiving low-income assistance were concerned that their benefits would be trimmed because the 8.7% COLA would push their income over the eligibility limits.

Advocates, including TSCL, are alarmed by estimates that nearly half of the people who lose coverage may do so even though they still qualify for Medicaid. We suspect that many older households receiving letters from Medicaid simply may not know what to do or, worse, may not realize their Medicaid coverage has ended. Of the seniors who receive both Medicare and Medicaid, many may have cognitive issues or disabilities that make it difficult to read and understand complicated Medicaid documents.

We are learning that some Medicaid enrollees have been erroneously removed from the rolls. In some areas, some lost coverage even before they had an opportunity to reapply. If this happens to you, reapply for Medicaid and immediately provide additional documentation of income and resources, such as the past 12 months in bank statements.

Medicaid is the federal/state healthcare program that helps lower healthcare costs through paying the Medicare Part B premium, and, for those with the lowest incomes, assistance may also include help with out-of-pocket costs. Most importantly, Medicaid is the only funding source for long-term care for low-income older Americans. It includes stays in nursing homes and home care benefits that help reimburse family caregivers for their time.

You can help us get up to speed about your situation by participating in our new Retirement Survey, and let us know how your family has been impacted by the new review of Medicaid rolls.

Please take our 2023 Retirement Survey, and let us know what you think! https://seniorsleague.org/2023-retirement-survey/