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Concern grows over WV kids losing Medicaid coverage

Nadia Ramlagan

The federal government has warned nine states about an alarming number of children losing Medicaid health coverage, and West Virginia officials say they’re also closely watching the numbers.

According to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, children make up around 40% of the state’s Medicaid beneficiaries. The program ensures low-income parents can take children to the doctor or dentist without facing costly bills.

Cindy Beane, commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau for Medical Services, said the Mountain State was one of the first to break down the data as families were requalified for Medicaid after the pandemic, and the drop is troubling.

“We have determined around 39,000 children, under the age of 19, have been determined ineligible or have failed to respond to the renewal,” Beane reported. “This is approximately about 12% of our total number.”

The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families estimates in 2023, more than 3 million children nationwide lost their Medicaid health coverage. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nationwide, around 20% of children covered by Medicaid have special health care needs.

According to the health care policy nonprofit KFF, the federal government covers most Medicaid costs in West Virginia, at 74%.

With the loss of additional pandemic-era funding and a budget deficit, Beane pointed out there could be fewer resources this year to cover low-income families, people with disabilities, pregnant women and others who rely on Medicaid. For now, she expects services and reimbursements to providers to remain the same.

“However, we are asking for a supplemental appropriation this year for the Medicaid program,” Beane noted. “That’s the first time we’ve asked in probably over 10 years.”

For assistance with Medicaid renewals or questions about eligibility, residents should call 877-716-1212, visit the online PATH portal, or go in-person to their local Department of Health and Human Resources field office.