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Maryland officials urge Medicaid recipients to renew coverage

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland officials announced a public awareness campaign on Thursday to remind Medicaid recipients to renew their coverage since the federal government is reinstating a requirement that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic for states to verify eligibility.

The announcement came on the same day that the nation’s COVID-19 health emergency was ending.

Maryland officials are calling it a “Medicaid Check-in” for the nearly 1.8 million Medicaid participants in the state who need to reapply for benefits during what’s known as the redetermination period, which began in April and runs through May 2024.

“It may be a simple message, but for many it’s a challenging, complex topic," said Maryland Health Secretary Laura Herrera Scott. "We form this coalition on this stage in the hope that no Marylander loses their health coverage because they were not aware that it’s time to reapply or reassess your eligibility for coverage.”

The awareness campaign is a joint effort by the health department, HealthChoice managed care organizations, Maryland Health Connection, the Maryland Department of Human Services, and the state's designated health information exchange, Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients.

The campaign will include TV, radio, social media, transit ads and direct communications in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Haitian Creole, the health department said.

“From digital billboards and social media to television and radio commercials, direct mailings and text messages, we are blasting the message into a multimedia megaphone," the health secretary said.

Herrera Scott pointed out that the state recognizes the importance of bringing health equity into the equation.

"That includes putting printed informative fliers directly into peoples’ hands, having pastors at Sunday service spread the news about Medicaid renewals and working with local grassroots organizations to provide information face to face.”

State official said Medicaid participants can find more information online.

Medicaid enrollment ballooned during the pandemic, in part because the federal government prohibited states from removing people from the program during the public health emergency once they had enrolled.

While it was estimated during a hearing in this year's Maryland legislative session that as many as 80,000 residents in Maryland might no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage, officials said Thursday they are uncertain of the number and declined to provide an estimate.

“We know at least half will keep their coverage based on what we’ve been doing to date, but our goal is to keep as many covered with their managed care organization as possible, and if not they’ll have options to work with the exchange for either employer-sponsored health plans or other options through the exchange," Herrera Scott said.

Michele Eberle, the executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said Maryland is in a better position than a lot of states because it has an integrated system between Medicaid and qualified health insurance plans. Maryland also has not stopped doing redeterminations about qualifications, she said, while other states have not done them for three years.