Since West Virginia’s Medicaid eligibility review began this spring, around 100,000 residents have been kicked off the rolls.
Experts have said many likely remain eligible, but perhaps did not respond to a paperwork request or have a new address. With Medicaid numbers shrinking, the state could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching funds for the program.
Renate Pore, health care policy consultant for West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare, said fewer dollars mean fewer resources for low-income families, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and others who rely on Medicaid for health coverage.
“The 100,000 people who no longer have Medicaid coverage,” Pore explained, “may not even know they no longer have Medicaid coverage until they go to a doctor’s office and find out that, indeed, their coverage has dropped.”
Last December, more than 656,000 people were enrolled in West Virginia’s Medicaid program, according to state data. A 2022 KFF survey found nationwide, more than half of adults report they have gone into debt because of medical or dental bills.
Census data show 23 million people are saddled with significant medical debt and collectively, Americans owe at least $195 billion.
The state came under recent federal scrutiny for mistakenly dropping thousands of children from its rolls. Pore added with a shrinking Medicaid population comes a 5% loss in federal funding for the program’s operation and reimbursements, which she called significant.
“It’s very concerning,” Pore stressed. “The state’s going to lose funding for all those people who have been dropped. In addition, the 80% federal support goes back down to about 75%.”
West Virginians looking for health coverage can contact a navigator or call 844-WV-CARES.