The federal government is giving states more time to complete their Medicaid unwinding process – and people still on the Medicaid rolls more time to apply to retain their Medicaid eligibility.

In a memo to state Medicaid programs, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services wrote that

To continue supporting states’ efforts to establish and update income and eligibility determination systems that maximize states’ ability to ensure that eligible individuals retain coverage, CMS is further extending these unwinding-related…waivers through June 30, 2025.

When the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s prohibition against removing people from state Medicaid rolls ended with the formal expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, authorities and observers estimate that this would result in somewhere between five and 14 million people losing their Medicaid eligibility.  So far, however, approximately 20 million people have lost their eligibility, and with this announcement CMS is giving states more time to determine beneficiaries’ continued eligibility and encouraging states to use more of the tools at their disposal to make accurate, timely eligibility redetermination decisions.

Medicaid eligibility matters are of special importance to community safety-net hospitals because they are generally located in low-income areas with large numbers of Medicaid patients.  If those patients lose their Medicaid eligibility, mission-driven community safety-net hospitals risk providing care to potentially large numbers of patients without reimbursement, which could, over time, threaten their financial viability.

Learn more about CMS’s actions from the Becker’s Hospital Review article “CMS extends Medicaid waivers to 2025” and from this CMS memo to state Medicaid agencies.