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Local News

With Medicaid Renewal About to Start, State Urges Patients to Update Contact Info

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by Erik Gunn, Wisconsin Examiner

Wisconsin Medicaid and BadgerCare participants will start hearing this month from the state health department about when they will need to renew their enrollment in the health insurance program.

Wisconsinites covered by Medicaid are being urged to make sure the state Department of Health Services (DHS) has their up-to-date contact information.

“The first, most important step is to update their mailing address with the state if they have moved,” said Jamie Kuhn, DHS Medicaid director, at a briefing Thursday. “This will ensure that members receive the important information we’re sending them about their renewals and their renewal due date.”

Providing up-to-date cell phone and email information will make it possible for the department to communicate with Medicaid and BadgerCare recipients by text message and email, Kuhn added. 

People with an account at the website access.wi.gov, for those enrolled in Medicaid, FoodShare and other assistance programs, can also update their contact information there or by using the cell phone app that connects with the site. “This is one of the fastest ways to update your contact information,” Kuhn said.

In March and April, DHS will send a letter to all Medicaid and BadgerCare participants telling them when they will have to renew their enrollment. Enrollment renewals will be spread over the 12 months from June 2023 to May 2024.

This is the first time in three years that Medicaid and BadgerCare participants will have to renew their enrollment. 

Normally an annual requirement, the renewal was suspended in March 2020 by federal law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that required states to provide continuous coverage for Medicaid patients and provided additional federal funds in return. The suspension was lifted effective April 1 as part of the federal appropriations bill enacted in late December.

In that three-year period, Wisconsin’s Medicaid rolls added about 400,000 people, growing from 1.2 million in February 2020 to 1.6 million today, according to DHS. Because participants didn’t have to re-enroll each year, some might be covered by the program even though they no longer qualify, but Kuhn said DHS has no estimate of how many people that might be.

For people who submit a renewal application and no longer qualify — for example, because their incomes have risen above the federal poverty guideline for the size of their household — DHS seeks to ensure “that individuals who may become ineligible have a smooth transition and have access to appropriate resources to find other options for coverage,” Kuhn said. 

Marlia Mattke, an administrator in charge of eligibility and enrollment at the DHS Medicaid division, said the department will work with people who lose their eligibility to refer them to other agencies for help. Those include the state’s WisCovered.com website; Covering Wisconsin, a statewide health insurance navigator; and HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act. 

Mattke said people also would be urged to speak with their employers about health coverage, inquire with their health provider or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), or get information by calling 211. People 65 or older can qualify for coverage under Medicare, she said. 

This story was written by Erik Gunn, Deputy Editor at the Wisconsin Examiner, where this story first appeared.

Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Ruth Conniff for questions: info@wisconsinexaminer.com. Follow Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.