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Biden admin asks employers for help as millions lose insurance coverage

Biden admin asks employers for help as millions lose insurance coverage

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure testifies before the Senate Finance Committee during her appointment hearing for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator in Washington on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Caroline Brehman | CQ Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

The Biden administration on Thursday urged companies to help keep their employees covered as millions of people across the US are suddenly covered by Medicaid.

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who directs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a letter to employers that workers who have lost their Medicaid coverage should be allowed to enroll at any time during the next year through a special enrollment period sign up for group health insurance.

Companies are required to give their employees at least 60 days to sign up for their group health insurance. However, Brooks-LaSure said that was not enough time considering how many people are suddenly losing Medicaid protection.

According to KFF, a nonprofit organization that researches health issues, more than 3 million people have lost Medicaid since April when coverage introduced by Congress during the Covid-19 public health emergency expired.

Medicaid is the health insurance program for people on low incomes. The program is heavily funded by the federal government but is largely administered by the states.

Congress had blocked states from opting out of Medicaid during the pandemic in exchange for a boost in funding. Medicaid coverage rose to an all-time high of more than 86 million people through March 2023, a 35% increase from February 2020.

With those protections ending, states are now reviewing people’s eligibility for the first time in three years, and millions are losing their health insurance as a result.

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Many people may have missed state agencies’ notification of the end of their Medicaid coverage and may not realize they are no longer covered until they see a doctor, Brooks-LaSure said Thursday.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 3.8 million people at risk of losing Medicaid coverage are eligible for insurance through an employer. Another 2.7 million people expected to lose Medicaid are eligible for subsidized insurance through Affordable Care Act marketplaces.

CMS has established a special enrollment period for individuals wishing to enroll in subsidized insurance coverage through Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces by July 2024.

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