As Florida “unwinds” from the COVID-19 public health emergency and returns its Medicaid program to pre-pandemic rules, there’s a possibility that older people – in addition to children – could lose their coverage even if they’re still eligible.
Senior advocates are calling attention to Florida’s “MEDS AD” program – or Medicaid for people who are older or have disabilities – and those receiving home and community-based services through a managed-care company, enrolled in what’s called Long Term Care.
Miriam Harmatz, advocacy director and founder of the Florida Health Justice Project, said she’s concerned that people who’ve not had to renew any of their eligibility paperwork since 2020 will be lost or confused when they receive notices in the mail.
“People have fallen through the cracks in the past, even though they’re eligible,” said Harmatz, “whether that’s because they failed to get in verification as required, or it gets lost or there’s a computer SNAFU. All of those things happen.”
The DeSantis administration says it will return the Florida Medicaid program to its pre-pandemic operations beginning April 1. That includes removing about 900,000 people the state says are no longer eligible, and who haven’t used Medicaid-covered services.
Harmatz has been trying to get the word out, hosting Q&A sessions on her website for anyone whose coverage might be affected based on age or disability.
Harmatz said she’s calling for more support for these groups, urging friends and families to assist them with navigating the termination notices in their mail to ensure they can properly reapply.
“And so it’s critical that this population be getting special attention to insure every single one of them, because they are so vulnerable,” said Harmatz. “Imagine if you’ve been getting these services and they just stop, especially if you’re living alone.”
The state says it will also begin efforts to re-determine Medicaid eligibility for another 850,000 Floridians who haven’t provided their financial information during the pandemic.
Harmatz encouraged people to make sure their contact information is up-to-date on the Department of Children and Families website and be on the lookout for notices in the mail.