by Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press
Mississippi has removed more than 29,000 people from Medicaid as the program starts reviewing who is eligible to keep coverage now that the federal government has ended a pandemic public health emergency.
That is just over 3% of people who were enrolled in the state’s program in June.
The Mississippi Division of Medicaid said in a statement Monday that it expects enrollment to further decrease in the coming months as officials continue reviewing eligibility.
Medicaid provides health insurance for low-income people, with costs covered by federal and state tax dollars.
Federal law prohibited states from removing people from Medicaid during the COVID-19 public health emergency, which started in early 2020 and ended this May. States received extra federal money to cover the expenses.
Mississippi examined records for 67,695 Medicaid beneficiaries whose coverage was up for review in June, and about 56% of them remain enrolled, the division said.
Of the roughly 29,000 Mississippi residents who have been removed from the program, about 60% had remained on Medicaid during the pandemic because of the special eligibility rules.
Medicaid enrollment increased across the U.S. during the pandemic. Nearly 87 million people nationwide were enrolled in Medicaid as of the most recent available data in March — up more than one-third from the pre-pandemic total of about 64 million in January 2020.
The Mississippi Division of Medicaid said its enrollment increased from 716,896 in March 2020 to 904,590 this June — a jump of 26%. Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the nation, and its population is about 3 million.
With the end of the public health emergency, states have one year to review whether people are eligible to remain on Medicaid. By mid-June, more than 1 million people across the nation had been removed from the program, many of them for not filling out paperwork.