State Medicaid programs are in the midst of removing millions of people from their rolls. According to new data , more than 1.5 million in 27 states have found themselves jettisoned from the program since the end of March. Many Democrats have alleged that this Medicaid purge is unfair and unjust. In reality, it’s essential to the program’s long-term viability.
Let’s start with the reason people are losing their Medicaid coverage. They haven’t shown that they’re eligible, as the law requires. This is neither arbitrary nor capricious, and it isn’t happening out of the blue. As part of last year’s federal budget deal, states gained the ability to resume verifying whether Medicaid enrollees were actually eligible for the program starting this past April.
They hadn’t been able to do so for the previous three years. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Congress essentially barred states from kicking people off Medicaid, even if they were ineligible. It did so by offering states significant amounts of federal cash to keep people continuously enrolled. Over a three-year period, the ranks of those covered by Medicaid grew from 64 million to 85 million. But the public health emergency is over. It makes no sense for taxpayers to continue covering the cost of Medicaid for people who are not eligible for the program under its own terms.