A federal mandate that allows states to offer continuous Medicaid coverage will end tomorrow.
Continuous enrollment – started at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – automatically renewed coverage for people in the Medicaid program. New Mexico is now reverting back to an earlier system in which enrollees renew their benefits annually, state officials said Thursday. As many as 110,000 New Mexicans no longer meet income requirements for the Medicaid program, and are likely to be affected by the change.
Human Services acting Secretary Kari Armijo said the department began mailing renewal applications to some of New Mexico’s nearly 980,000 Medicaid recipients earlier this month. The state has also partnered with the New Mexico health insurance exchange, beWellnm, to help find low-cost coverage for impacted New Mexicans.
“We don’t want (those on Medicaid) to go without health insurance,” Armijo said. “That’s our biggest concern – really making sure we do everything we can to minimize those coverage gaps for New Mexicans.”
With the end of continuous coverage, officials expect average enrollment to decrease by nearly 10% across the state. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that specializes in national health issues, estimates up to 14 million Medicaid enrollees nationwide will lose their coverage with the end of the continuous enrollment provision.
The enhanced federal match rate – which stood at 6.2% in New Mexico – that supplemented costs for states for the increase in Medicaid enrollees will also wind down with the end of continuous coverage. Lorelei Kellogg, the interim Medicaid director for the state, said the match rate will drop to 5% next month with further decreases expected to happen throughout the year.
Asked what would fill that funding gap, Armijo said the budget for Medicaid in FY24 is “adequately funded” by legislation currently under review by the governor.