More than 500,000 Texans have lost their Medicaid health insurance after more than three years of continuous coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from the state’s health and human services commission.
Those affected are mostly children, young adults and new moms who had a child in the last three years. The Texans who lost their health insurance had coverage until the end of May or June, depending on when their case was processed, a spokesperson for the commission said.
In March 2020, in the first few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government instituted a new rule, requiring that anyone who received Medicaid health insurance had to continue receiving benefits throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. In exchange, states got more money from the federal government to run the program as enrollment grew.
That requirement ended March 31, meaning that states throughout the US have begun reviewing Medicaid participants to see who is no longer eligible, either because they have turned 18, because their family’s income has increased, or because it has been more than two months since they gave birth to their baby.
In April, Texas started the year-long undertaking of reviewing the 5.9 million people who receive Medicaid benefits, and seeing how many of them would still qualify for the program.
So far, Texas has evaluated more than 600,000 people, according to the commission’s data. Of those, about 112,000 people were found to still be eligible and were able to keep their Medicaid. Almost 96,000 people were no longer eligible for the program, and the renewal process has not yet been finished for another 173,000 Texans. The remainder — almost 405,000 Texans — lost coverage for procedural reasons, like failing to respond to the state’s package asking for their information, or failing to provide the requested information on time. Once someone gets a request for more information from the state, they have 30 days to send their information in.
Advocates have been warning about this possibility for years, noting that people could miss packets in the mail or phone calls or texts if they’ve moved or changed their contact information.
In Tarrant County, there were almost 394,000 people receiving Medicaid health insurance benefits earlier this year. The vast majority of them — 78% — were under 21, according to February enrollment data from the state. Researchers previously estimated that between 50,000 and 66,000 Tarrant County residents would no longer be eligible for Medicaid and would be removed from the program. The state has not released county-level data detailing where those who have lost Medicaid live.
In June, the Biden administration urged states to remove people more slowly from Medicaid, and to make greater outreach to people enrolled in the program.
Although Medicaid is commonly understood as a health insurance program for people with low incomes, the program looks different in every state. In Texas, few adults are eligible for the program. The Texas Medicaid program mostly insures children, pregnant people, and people with disabilities. Texas is one of just 10 states that decided not to expand Medicaid so that more adults would be able to get health insurance.
Most adults without disabilities are not eligible for Medicaid in Texas, meaning that if they want health insurance they will have to purchase it through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace or find a job that offers health insurance as part of its benefits package.