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Nearly 1.7 million Texans lose Medicaid as state nears end of “unwinding”

Nearly 1.7 million Texans have lost their health insurance — the largest number of people any state has removed — in the months since Texas began peeling people from Medicaid as part of the post-pandemic “unwinding.” Around 65% of these removals occurred because of procedural reasons, according to the state.

Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission has neared the end of a chaotic and overburdened process to remove people from state Medicaid insurance who became ineligible during the coronavirus pandemic. The state had not unenrolled people before this year because of federal pandemic rules, which forbid states from cutting coverage.

As a result, more than 5 million Texans had continuous access to healthcare throughout the pandemic through Medicaid, the joint federal-and-state-funded insurance program for low-income individuals. In Texas, the program’s eligibility criteria is so restrictive, it mainly covers poor children, their mothers while pregnant and post partum, and disabled and senior adults.

But the effects of speedrunning this process have reverberated: Still-eligible Texans were kicked off both in error and for procedural reasons, adding to backlogs of hundreds of thousands of Medicaid applications and pushing wait times back several months.

“The state handled this with an incredible amount of incompetence and indifference to poor people,” U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, told The Texas Tribune. “It's really appalling.”

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Source: The Texas Tribune, 14 December 2023


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