MONTGOMERY — Alabama began removing ineligible Medicaid enrollees recently after the federal COVID-19 public health emergency ended earlier this year. 

A federal law passed in 2020 required state Medicaid programs to keep Medicaid recipients enrolled in the program regardless of eligibility. The continuous enrollment requirement ended on April 1. Alabama and other states have recently gone back to the pre-pandemic routine of checking enrollees for income and residency information to see if enrollees are eligible to be on the program.

“Our entire system has to go through to verify that everyone that’s on it is still eligible,” State Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) told 1819 News on Thursday. “It was an astronomical number to go through and then re-verify everyone that could still participate in the program. Once the emergency order ended, we assumed that they would immediately have to start going through it and they started and I think they realized that there was probably a little bit of grace to get started because it was such a yeoman’s task to then re-verify everyone that’s currently on to figure out are they still eligible or not.”

Approximately 1.37 million Alabamians receive Medicaid as of May. That's up from a total of about 1.05 million Alabamians in September 2019 before the pandemic.

Alabama Medicaid recently hired Capitol Bridge LLC of Arlington, VA for approximately $486,000 to address the volume of reviews to be accomplished during the unwinding period since the federal COVID-19 public health emergency expired.

“States were given the option of when they could start,” a spokeswoman for Alabama Medicaid said in a Contract Review committee meeting on Thursday. “They could start in April, May, or June. We have had some terminations the first couple of months but the main purpose of this particular contract is that because we’ve kept so many more people on during the pandemic we don’t have the staff to manage the capacity of renewals. Not only do we have to do a renewal, but if we receive a renewal and we check the eligibility status and we find that they’re no longer eligible we also have to check to see if they’re eligible for a different program than the program they were on so that’s why we need this.”

Enrollees should expect a recorded call, text message, and an email when it’s time to renew for the program, according to Alabama Medicaid. The message will let recipients know that a renewal form will be mailed to them, and recipients can renew online or mail the form back.

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