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Many Arizonans at risk of losing Medicaid coverage soon

Arizona was barred from disenrolling Medicaid members during the pandemic. But that protection will soon expire and the state must determine who's still eligible.

PHOENIX — Arizona will soon determine who among the 2.5 million residents enrolled in the state's Medicaid programs are still eligible for the low-cost health coverage.

Starting April 1, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System will begin disenrolling Medicaid members who are no longer eligible for the program. 

The state was prohibited under federal law from disenrolling Medicaid members during the COVID-19 pandemic. But that protection will soon expire and Arizona must resume how it previously operated its Medicaid programs.

As many as 14 million people across the U.S. could lose access to Medicaid coverage once states start disenrolling members, according to the Associated Press.

This policy shift is projected to change Arizona's enrollment numbers since AHCCCS had never had more than two million members prior to the pandemic.

"We do expect that some members will no longer meet eligibility criteria," the agency wrote in a statement.

The agency said it will be critical for AHCCCS members to make sure their contact information is correct. If the agency can't communicate with members about their renewal, then the member is at risk of losing coverage.

>>VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL: Muchos arizonenses en riesgo de perder cobertura de Medicaid pronto

AHCCCS has an online screening tool that can estimate whether an Arizona resident qualifies for coverage based on income and household size.

It will take AHCCCS at least 12 months to determine the eligibility of Arizona's Medicaid members. The agency said each member will be notified of their renewal one month prior, during which time members can submit requested documents. 

The Children's Action Alliance has been working to get the word out on the Medicaid renewal process in Arizona.

Kelley Murphy, the organization's vice president of policy, said these programs are a valuable resource for protecting families from having to contend with medical debt.

“Right now this coverage is preventing families from racking up huge medical bills if they have a catastrophic illness, and it’s also preventing them from everyday healthcare costs that are burdensome,” Murphy said.

Those who are ultimately disenrolled from Medicaid can attempt to appeal the decision or seek alternative health coverage at this website.

More information about the Medicaid renewal process can be found here.

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