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Medicaid could be up for some North Dakotans

Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 8:19 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A lot of Americans are in for an expensive awakening when the Covid-19 health emergency is declared over.

When the pandemic first began, many people lost their jobs, and with them, their employer-provided health insurance.

In March of 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allowed as many as 15 million additional Americans, and roughly around 15,000 North Dakotans, to be covered.

The heath care coverage has been extended several times, and though it’s scheduled to expire next month, North Dakota officials say it’s likely to be extended again. Still, they’re preparing for its eventual end.

Some North Dakotans are at risk of losing health insurance next month if the COVID relief act isn’t renewed. However, officials at the Department of Human Services expect it’ll be extended again--just like it has eight times since 2020.

Still, when it does come to an end, there will still be about 15,000 people affected.

“They’re working adults, and so, with that group, we would suspect that some of them have had a job, some of them, their income might change, so that would be the group we would assume would be the most action in terms of movement from Medicaid to another health insurance plan,” said Caprice Knapp, DHS Medical Services Director.

As a result, the Department of Human Services will soon face a new effort in fight against the pandemic.

“We want to make sure that, let’s suppose that a client shows up at the doctor’s office, their Medicaid coverage is no longer valid, we want to make sure the providers have information on where they can send them, advice they can offer them, and steps that are needed to go through this renewal process,” said Knapp.

However, DHS has been preparing since October of 2020 for the end of the federal health emergency.

“We’ve already been doing, I think, some very smart things. So, starting in October of 2020, we actually were already collecting the information, so we would send out these renewal forms just like we normally would, we would collect the information, and we would put it in our system. So that when the public health emergency gets turned off, we already have some of that information,” said Knapp.

Whether the federal health emergency ends next month or next year, the goal is to be as prepared as possible.

Even though they’ve worked to get ahead of it, DHS officials’ biggest concern is the workload that’s required when the time comes: county social services offices will need to review each of the 125,000 Medicaid members’ plans.

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