People sit in a doctor's office
Missouri will undergo the annual renewal process from May 2023 to April 2024. Missourians can expect to receive a renewal notice around the month their coverage began, according to the state. (File photo)

About 1.4 million Missourians rely on Medicaid for their family’s health insurance, known in the state as MO HealthNet. They are all at risk of losing their coverage because federal law requires them to reenroll this year. The best way to prevent getting kicked off? Make sure the state has your current address.

Those already enrolled will need to reenroll starting in May of this year. The state warns that not everyone who attempts to reenroll will continue to be eligible for Medicaid. The state will review everyone currently enrolled to determine their eligibility sometime before April 2024. 

During the pandemic, the federal government tried to prioritize making health care as widely available as possible. A public health emergency declared by the federal government paused annual reenrollment processes on Medicaid recipients. Since 2020, Missourians who were enrolled in MO HealthNet have not needed to complete annual reenrollment. This means those who fell out of eligibility since then may now be kicked out of the program.

A new federal spending package passed at the end of December requires states to resume the annual renewal process over the next few months, despite the federal public health emergency still in place. 

Missouri will undergo the annual renewal process from May 2023 to April 2024. Missourians can expect to receive a renewal notice around the month their coverage began. 

I’m on Medicaid. What do I need to do before April 1?

The top priority for those currently enrolled in Medicaid is to update your mailing address, according to the Family Support Division, which manages MO HealthNet inside the Department of Social Services. 

The Family Support Division urges recipients to update their address online by reporting a change. You can also visit your in-person local resource center or dial 855-373-4636. Or check your mail for a notice with instructions. 

 “We cannot stress enough how imperative it is to make sure your address is up to date before April 1 so you can get these important updates,” said Robert J. Knodell, the acting director of the Department of Social Services.

Once the FSD has assessed your eligibility, it will send another letter updating you if your coverage has changed, if it has stayed the same or if you’ve lost coverage. 

Missourians approved expansion of the state’s Medicaid program in 2021. The expansion added more adults with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level.  Due to the expanded eligibility combined with the absence of annual eligibility checks, the state has seen the number of enrollees rise over the past few years.

Gov. Mike Parson recently joined 24 other Republican governors in urging the Biden administration to end the federal public health emergency. The Republican governors cited rising costs states must cover due to the continued enrollment policies. The federal government covers most of the cost of Medicaid expansion, but states still need to provide matching funds. 

In 2022, Missouri lawmakers looked to tighten up how much the state was spending on its Medicaid program.  Members of the Republican-led General Assembly introduced a ballot measure that would ask voters to defund the voter-approved Medicaid expansion and add work requirements as a term of coverage. The proposal never made it out of committee.    

Missouri has seen hurdles in its administrative handling of the Medicaid process, including long wait times for enrollees after they apply for the program. 

As a part of the federal government’s requirement that annual renewals begin again, states are meant to renew people’s eligibility automatically, called “ex-parte” renewals. Missouri traditionally doesn’t utilize the ex-parte renewal process at rates that other states do, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The ex-parte process allows the state to tap databases to find information about a person’s eligibility, like their income. In Missouri, less than 25% of renewals were completed without enrollee action. That means anyone on Medicaid cannot count on the state finding them to determine eligibility, making it critical to provide the state an updated address.

According to an August 2022 federal report, around 15 million people nationwide could be cut off from Medicaid due to administrative issues or loss of eligibility once enrollments begin. 

The report also finds that children,, young adults and people of color will be most impacted by the changes, with 5.3 million children and 4.7 million adults aged 18-34 predicted to lose coverage. 

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MEG CUNNINGHAM is The Beacon’s Missouri Statehouse reporter. Previously, Meg worked as a national politics reporter for ABC News in Washington, D.C., where she covered campaigns and elections. Meg is...