Eligibility reviews of Alaskans on Medicaid begin again

Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 7:57 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaskans will once again have to go through annual reviews of eligibility for Medicaid coverage.

For almost three years, the federal government said anyone on Medicaid could stay on Medicaid without an annual review to see if they still qualify, but starting April 1, all states, including Alaska, are now transitioning back to those annual renewals.

“I really want to emphasize that this does not mean beginning April 1 that anyone’s Medicaid coverage will end as a result of this,” said Emily Ricci, Deputy Commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Health. “This just means that we are beginning the first round of what will occur over a 12-month period of time, in terms of looking at individuals whose eligibility is set to be redetermined in April and initiating that process.”

This means the Division of Public Assistance will begin doing “automatic renewals,” where a person’s eligibility is checked by looking at various databases. If that shows a person remains eligible, they will receive a notice in the mail that their Medicaid coverage has been renewed for another year.

If the state is not able to do an automatic renewal, a packet will be sent to the person to fill out. Alaskans will have 45 days to provide that information to the state.

“We’re going to be very proactive to get information from individuals and contact them and make sure that no one just loses Medicaid eligibility because we haven’t been able to contact or reach them,” Director of Public Assistance Deb Etheridge said. “We’re engaged with our stakeholders to make sure that we can connect with people. The goal is not to have individuals lose eligibility if they otherwise would be eligible for Medicaid.”

Approximately 263,000 Alaskans get coverage through Medicaid, according to Ricci. She says they will begin by looking at about 11,000 people in the month of April and through the course of the next 12 months, they will review everyone on the Alaska Medicaid rolls.

In 2023, there are about 30,000 more Alaskans covered by Medicaid than in 2020, Ricci said.

“Now, the big question is, you know, how many of those individuals remain eligible? And we don’t know right now,” Ricci said. “I think that’s a big question for many states around the country and we’re one of those states. We’re in that same bucket, but that’s what we’ll see over the next 12 months as we work through the renewal process.”

The Alaska Department of Health will have the most up-to-date information and asks Medicaid recipients to go to the Alaska Department of Health website to find a link to update their contact information or by calling the Medicaid Information Update Hotline at 833-441-1870.