Another sign of the economic toll of the coronavirus: The number of individuals on Medicaid in New Hampshire has increased by 16.8% since the beginning of the pandemic.
Currently, there are a little over 207,000 people covered by Medicaid.
There are two reasons for that increase. The first is financial: many people have lost employer-based health insurance in recent months, or just can’t afford to pay for insurance anymore because of the pandemic.
But another reason, says Henry Lipman, New Hampshire’s state Medicaid director, is that states that receive federal relief money can’t discontinue coverage for people enrolled as of mid-March.
“As long as the federal public health emergency is in place, they continue to maintain their eligibility without exception, except for a few things like people moving out of state, or by death or if they voluntarily ask to leave the program," he said.
Lipman says it's important that people continue to send in the appropriate paperwork to re-up their Medicaid eligibility, so that once that emergency ends, there’s no gap in their coverage.
Typically, if someone hasn’t turned in their paperwork, they would no longer be eligible for Medicaid, but because of the federal public health emergency, they are still eligible.
Chris Santaniello, the director of the Division of Economic & Housing Stability, says she’s working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create a transition plan for when the federal emergency ends.
For her the priority is to make sure that people who are eligible continue to be eligible. So she and her office are reaching out to people to make sure they’re turning in their paperwork.
“We’re doing outreach, we’re sending letters,” she said. “We’re working closely with our community partners because they see a lot of the individuals on a regular basis.”