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28,243 Alabamians lost Medicaid coverage in September

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Nearly 30,000 Alabamians lost Medicaid coverage in September according to a new report released Wednesday.

For the month of September, the Alabama Medicaid Agency reported a total of 1,296,845 Alabamians enrolled in the low-income health care program, 28,243 less than August’s figure of 1,325,088. August’s enrollment numbers themselves were 28,273 less what was reported in July, with monthly Medicaid culling having steadily increased since April.

Near the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government instituted protections that prohibited states from terminating coverage for Medicaid recipients, regardless of income changes or other factors that would have otherwise made recipients ineligible.

After those federal protections expired on March 31, however, Alabama has been sifting through its rolls to redetermine the eligibility of the program’s more than 1.2 million recipients, often referred to as the “unwinding process.”

Broken down by gender, a total of 17,641 women were booted from Medicaid between August and September compared to 9,692 men, though women represent a larger share of those enrolled in Medicaid in Alabama, making up nearly 60% of all recipients.

Similarly, Black Alabamians are disproportionately enrolled in Medicaid relative to the state’s population makeup, and made up 11,232 of the 28,243 disenrolled from Medicaid in September. In comparison, white Alabamians made up slightly more of those disenrolled at 11,894, but proportionally far less relative to the state’s white population.

Additionally, children and teens 18 and younger made up 10,729 of those disenrolled from Medicaid in September, with those aged between 1 and 12 making up the largest share of disenrolled children at 7,786.

According to the Alabama Hospital Association, close to an additional 300,000 Alabmians could be made eligible for Medicaid were the state to expand the program through the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare. Under the ACC, states that expand Medicaid would receive substantial federal funding for doing so, which for the first six years, would save the state $397.8 million, per the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.

State lawmakers, however, have largely rejected the notion of expanding Medicaid along partisan lines, with House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, saying that the state needed to instead embrace an “Alabama solution for Alabama problems” over the summer. 

On the other hand, state Democrats have routinely advocated for expanding Medicaid, including House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels of Huntsville, who called for expansion after a number of hospitals across the state shuttered their maternity wards in November.

Outside of the Legislature, some health officials have also hinted at a support for expanding Medicaid, without outwardly endorsing it.

At a recent board meeting of the Alabama Department of Public Health, the latest annual report on infant mortality found that the infant mortality rate for Black Alabamians continued to worsen when compared to previous years.

State Health Officer Scott Harris, who told Alabama Daily News advocating for or promoting Medicaid expansion was outside of his agency’s authority, concluded during the meeting that other states that had expanded Medicaid did see statistically significant improvements in their own infant mortality rates.

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