Thousands removed from state Medicaid program

DES MOINES — State officials report around 120,000 Iowans have been removed from the Medicaid program since April, with about three-quarters of them being dropped from the rolls for procedural reasons, like not returning paperwork.

Enrollment swelled during the pandemic and federal rules said no one was to lose Medicaid coverage, even if their income rose above program limits. That rule was lifted this spring and states began Medicaid eligibility checks. State Medicaid director Elizabeth Matney says she expects the number of Iowans being removed to fall off sharply in the next few months. That’s because she says the state is first targeting people who are likely ineligible for the program.

“It’s not incredibly surprising to see a high number in these first handful of months, not returning their redeterminations, especially when we expected them to not be eligible anyway.” There’s a 90-day grace period for Iowans who have been removed, but still qualify to be reinstated with no gaps in their Medicaid coverage. “When we look at the individuals who are going through these procedural disenrollments as well, about 80% have other health insurance,” she says, “so losing Medicaid under this circumstance does not equal losing health coverage.”

As of this past June, about 860-thousand Iowans were enrolled in Medicaid — nearly 20 percent more than in June of 2020.