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More than 101,000 Alabamians removed from Medicaid since June

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A total of 101,568 Alabamians have lost Medicaid coverage since June, with 22,739 alone losing coverage between September and October according to a new report from the Alabama Medicaid Agency.

Since the expiration of pandemic protections in April for Medicaid recipients, states have gone through a required reevaluation of beneficiaries’ eligibility. In Alabama, that has meant purging an average 25,392 a month of the program’s more than 1.2 million recipients since June. Nationwide more than 12.5 million have lost Medicaid coverage since the unwinding process began.

While many Alabamians that were removed from Medicaid likely lost coverage due to no longer being eligible for the low-income program, a significant amount may have been purged due to procedural reasons, according to Alabama Medicaid Division Director Felton Gretel.

Medicaid recipients that have lost coverage due to procedural reasons but are otherwise still eligible are able to have their coverage renewed were they to re-enroll within 90 days of termination, something Alabama Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar has urged residents to be proactive about.

Alabama is one of 10 states that decided not to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, with Republican leaders citing the cost as the main reason why. Still, many have continued to push for a solution to the state’s insurance coverage gap. 

Expanding Medicaid, according to the Alabama Hospital Association, would make an additional 300,000 Alabamians eligible for the program, most of which exist in the coverage gap, meaning they earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but too little to afford health care on the private market.

State Democrats have largely advocated in favor of Medicaid expansion, with former Rep. John Knight of Montgomery sponsoring a Medicaid expansion bill on a yearly basis until leaving office in 2018. Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, has carried the bill every year since, to little success.

State Republicans have remained largely opposed to expanding Medicaid, and often point to costs related to expansion, which are estimated to be $225.4 million annually over a six-year period. Federal incentives would mostly cover those costs for about 10 years. 

By the numbers

According to the latest report from AMA, 8,993 of the 22,739 Alabamians who lost Medicaid between September and October were 18 or younger, and the remaining 13,746 were 19 and older. Of the 8,993 children that lost Medicaid, 6,879 of them were between the ages of 1 and 12.

Of those booted from Medicaid during that same period, 14,051 of them were women, and 7,944 of them were men, though women make up a disproportionate share of Medicaid recipients at 60%. 

Black Alabamians also made up a disproportionate number of those booted from Medicaid, making up 37.9% of those purged from the rolls between September and October, despite the state’s Black population sitting at around 27%.

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