Up to 500,000 Indiana Medicaid users scramble as expanded eligibility ends
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Every day, Eliza Brader takes her dog, Lucy, for a walk.
Keeping Lucy healthy is critical for Brader. She has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition that impacts her joints and, indirectly, her nervous system. Lucy is trained to detect changes in Brader’s body chemistry and alert her when she is about to have a medical emergency.
“I have ways to get out and around without her help, but she makes my life so much more accessible,” she said.
Brader once had to use a wheelchair because dizzy spells made it too dangerous for her to walk. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, Congress passed legislation requiring that Medicaid users be continuously enrolled through the end of the month in which the declared public health emergency would end. Brader took advantage of the coverage to get spinal surgery that allowed her to walk again. She estimated the surgery itself would have cost her roughly $500,000. She still has to attend monthly physical therapy, which is covered under Medicaid, and take care of Lucy out of her own pocket.
Under a new law signed in the final days of 2022, the continuous eligibility rule will expire at the end of March. Beginning April 30, Medicaid users who no longer meet normal eligibility requirements will be dropped from the program. The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration said up to 500,000 people could lose their benefits by the time the process ends in May 2024. Chief Medical Officer Maria Finnell said the Family and Social Services Administration will reevaluate everyone’s eligibility in monthly stages.
“The most important thing for everybody to know is that this is ongoing, it’s going to happen all over the country,” she said. “If you are covered by any Medicaid program, make sure we have your updated contact information.”
Brader said losing Medicaid coverage is a frightening prospect. She said the medications she has to take cost roughly $200 per month by themselves. She said there is no way she could cover the cost of her therapy and checkups as well. She is applying for Indiana University’s PhD program and works part-time for a Bloomington nonprofit in her spare time. This means she won’t make enough to afford a health care plan through healthcare.gov. To make matters worse, Brader said she gets the runaround from the Family and Social Services Administration every time she calls.
“It’s usually half an hour to an hour wait time,” she said. “The most effective way, it seems, to get information is just to go wait in their office but, even then, I get conflicting information and it’s hard to know what they really want from us.”
Finnell said the Family and Social Services Administration is still adding staff to cover the expanded call volume and legal guidance is still changing. If someone is found to be over the income limit for Medicaid, she said the Family and Social Services Administration will automatically add those people’s information to healthcare.gov and users can sign up that way. She said Medicaid users also should check with their employer about any health coverage they offer.
Indiana Family and Social Services Administration officials said users can update their contact information through the Family and Social Services Administration benefits portal. You can also call the Family and Social Services Administration at 800-403-0864.
- Changes to Medicaid law could put thousands of Hoosier kids at risk
- Millions in U.S. who rely on Medicaid may be booted from program
- Millions of U.S. children are at risk of losing Medicaid coverage starting in April
Note: An earlier version of this story stated work requirements for Medicaid would go into effect. According to FSSA, Indiana’s Medicaid program does not currently include work requirements.