Enrollment in HUSKY, Connecticut’s Medicaid program, crept closer to the one-million mark in early 2022.
According to the latest figures from the Department of Social Services, Medicaid enrollment is 997,880 or 28 percent of Connecticut’s population through May 2022. Participation in Medicaid swelled at the beginning of the pandemic as the coronavirus (and government lockdowns) shuttered businesses. Enrollment in Medicaid jumped from about 553,000 at the end of 2013 to more than 750,000 just two years later as the state made more people eligible. About 826,000 Connecticut residents were on Medicaid in February 2020 just before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medicaid is a government-run health insurance program that provides coverage to eligible low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities. It is jointly funded by the federal and state governments. In the upcoming fiscal year, Connecticut plans to spend $3 billion in state funds on Medicaid, or 14 percent of General Fund appropriations.
Congress in March 2020 passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). One FFCRA provision increased federal matching funds for state Medicaid programs by 6.2 percent, only if state agencies maintain “continuous enrollment” and do not impose new eligibility restrictions. Continuous enrollment means states aren’t checking to see whether people are still eligible (for instance, that laid-off workers haven’t found jobs and obtained employer health insurance).
Prior to the pandemic, Medicaid enrollment fluctuated between 825,000 and 850,000 people, as enrollees had to continuously reapply for benefits and reaffirm they needed coverage.
The increased federal funding will continue until the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary ends the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) which began January 31, 2020, and after nine extensions, is expected to be again extended before its next expiration in mid-July.
The Biden Administration has promised to give states 60 days’ notice before terminating the PHE, and since there has been no word from the White House the order will likely be extended another 90 days.
With FFCRA funding winding down the state may risk incurring costs for those individuals who have been continuously enrolled during the PHE but are no longer eligible for Medicaid. At the same time, the state needs to warn those at risk of losing Medicaid so they can plan to find alternative coverage.