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News / Health / Clark County Health

More than 26,000 in Clark County could lose Medicaid as COVID emergency ends

By Nika Bartoo-Smith, Columbian staff reporter
Published: March 17, 2023, 6:04am

More than 26,000 Clark County residents could lose health coverage in the coming months as the expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency puts an end to continuous Medicaid enrollment.

Nearly 300,000 people in Washington, including 26,491 in Clark County, have retained Medicaid Apple Health coverage through the COVID-19 pandemic even if they no longer qualified due to increased income or a failure to respond to a renewal letter.

When the federal public health emergency that made such coverage possible expires in early May, states will resume normal Medicaid programs, which means an end to continuous Medicaid enrollment.

“We’ve continued to send letters to (Medicaid Apple Care recipients) to remind them that they have a renewal every 12 months; but if they didn’t respond to that letter, and they didn’t take some action, we were just extending their coverage following those federal rules,” Amy Dobbins, a Washington State Health Care Authority Medicaid eligibility section manager, told The Columbian. “Now, those federal rules are ending. We need to resume pre-pandemic processes.”

You can help

With the return to normal operations April 1, Washington Health Care Authority is currently seeking community organizations to serve as volunteer Apple Health ambassadors, working to ensure Apple Health clients get the information and resources needed to maintain coverage.

To learn more about the Apple Health ambassador program visit hca.wa.gov/about-hca/programs-and-initiatives/apple-health-medicaid/apple-health-ambassador-program.

In other words, if someone does not respond to the letter, or no longer meets eligibility requirements, it likely will mean a loss in coverage. The 26,491 Clark County residents who kept Medicaid Apple Care through continuous enrollment will have to renew their Medicaid eligibility after April 1.

Though many people will be expected to take action to renew coverage, it will not happen all at once, according to Dobbins. Many people can expect to get a renewal notice in May, June and July, though it could be even later for some.

While some of those covered by Medicaid Apple Care through continuous enrollment will no longer qualify after April 1, others will still meet eligibility requirements and just need to answer upcoming notices, Dobbins said.

Dobbins recommends responding to those notices as soon as they are received and reaching out for assistance as needed.

Those whose Apple Health plan will not renew can search for a new plan on the state health insurance exchange website at wahealthplanfinder.org.

Columbian staff reporter