Medicaid Recertification

Overcoming a major roadblock to health equity: Medicaid recertification

Overcoming a major roadblock to health equity: Medicaid recertification

Mala Suri, Vice President of Medicaid Products, Healthfirst

The worst time to find out you don’t have health insurance is when you try to use it. And because the federal government is now rolling back pandemic-related programs, that may be the reality for many Medicaid members.

As part of the federal government’s response to the pandemic, all Medicaid programs kept people continuously enrolled each year for the last three years. Beneficiaries did not have to recertify their eligibility for the program, the state simply maintained coverage.

However, continuous reenrollment ended in the spring of 2023, allowing states to resume normal recertification processes. New York State ended continuous Medicaid enrollment on June 30, and individuals enrolled in Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and Essential Plans must renew their coverage by going through the recertification process to establish their eligibility.

More than 18 million people across the country could lose coverage after autorenewals end, according to a report published by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — though many would remain eligible for continued coverage.

Raising awareness of the resumption of the recertification process is integral in our journey toward health equity. Healthfirst is taking an all-hands-on-deck, multipronged approach so New Yorkers don’t experience a lapse in coverage.

A health equity issue

Healthcare coverage is a cornerstone of reducing health disparities — without coverage, the barrier to accessing care can be insurmountable for people in traditionally marginalized communities.

The resumption of recertification could be a barrier on our journey to advance health equity. Those left behind in a coverage gap may face overwhelming healthcare bills or skip refilling the prescriptions that keep them out of the hospital.

While the New York State Department of Health launched a pre-emptive campaign to educate consumers about the coming changes, including sending Medicaid beneficiaries a timely letter when it is time to renew coverage, many Medicaid enrollees may be unreachable or have moved during the pandemic.

As part of our mission to advance health equity, raising New Yorkers’ awareness of this important process is a top priority for us at Healthfirst.

A collaborative, community-first awareness campaign

The New York State Department of Health has done a great job building a multi-faceted awareness campaign. The New York State Medicaid director and governor have made public appearances and issued statements, and information is widely available online, via social media, and via text.

Because Healthfirst is responsible for insuring nearly 1.5 million Medicaid members, we know we also need to lead the way in finding members who are up for recertification and close the gap in that population being recertified or transitioned to a new plan.

That’s why we developed our own omni-channel outreach plan to complement what the state is doing to help New Yorkers avoid gaps in coverage. Our program includes robust internal efforts as well as calling on our trusted provider and community-based organization partners to engage our members and public relations efforts including an in-depth interview on ABC7NY’s news program Here and Now.

From handing out flyers at community events, to fielding member calls, and having information and team members available in our 26 local community offices, members can talk with any of our culturally competent, multilingual sales and customer service reps about what this means for them. We’re also spreading the word via social media posts and this dedicated webpage.

Members will also receive personalized outreach leading up to the time they are up for recertification, as the renewal date varies from member to member.

Medicaid coverage is essential to public health, and it’s vital that all stakeholders in our community work together toward the shared goal of keeping eligible New Yorkers insured. I encourage everyone in the community to pitch in for this important public health effort.