150,000 Arizonans have been kicked off Medicaid after 3-year disenrollment pause

About 2.4 million people in our state are on Medicaid. That’s about 32% of our population and nearly one in three Arizonans.
Published: Jun. 16, 2023 at 5:22 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Heads up for those on Medicaid: you must update your information soon or risk being kicked off. After a pause due to the pandemic, the state recently started removing people from its Medicaid rolls for the first time in three years. “Who are these people who have lost coverage and why,” asked Matt Jewett with Arizona Children’s Action Alliance.

In the past two months, 150,000 people in Arizona have lost their Medicaid coverage. “38% of those who lost coverage are children,” Jewett said. Medicaid is government-funded health insurance for low-income people. “It is concerning because health insurance is so important for children as they are growing up.”

Heidi Capriotti with the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System or AHCCCS says disenrollment stopped during the pandemic. They started again on April 1. “There are currently a lot of people in AHCCCS who have never been through the regular annual renewal process,” Capriotti said. “Maybe they didn’t complete their renewal, or they didn’t receive their renewal information; those are the numbers that we are seeing so far,” she added.

Around 15 million people could be dropped from Medicaid, according to various estimates, though several million folks could find coverage elsewhere.

AHCCCS functions as Arizona’s Medicaid agency, Capriotti explains. The system is sending out renewal completion information over the next 12 months. In most cases, AHCCCS can automatically review and re-enroll people based on their tax information. “What is surprising is some of the initial data we saw out of access showed that most people were getting renewed. And now what we are seeing is that most people are not able to successfully renew,” said Jewett.

So why are people dropped? Matt Jewett, with the Children’s Action Alliance, says some no longer meet the low-income qualifications. But for others, it could be another issue, “red tape can kick people off of coverage,” Jewett said. “We have heard of families having difficulties getting through on phone lines to the state.” He adds that hasn’t happened as much in Arizona, however.

If you’ve been kicked off and believe you still qualify, you have 90 days to re-submit. “It’s crucial that they respond to us with that information,” Capriotti said. About 2.4 million people in our state are on Medicaid. That’s about 32% of our population and nearly one in three Arizonans. According to AHCCCS data, 78% of people so far were kicked off for procedural reasons– which means they didn’t know they were at risk of losing coverage or they failed to provide information.

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