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Medicaid 'unwinding' has dropped thousands from health coverage in Kansas and Missouri

Two women sit inside a radio studio at microphones. The one on the right is talking while the other looks at her and listens.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Emily Dreher, left, and Molly Gotobed help people navigate their Medicaid renewals. For Gotobed, who works in Kansas, the process has been just as chaotic as expected.

States were banned from removing people from Medicaid during the COVID-19 public health emergency unless a person moved, died or asked to be taken off. Now that the pandemic has been declared over, Missouri and Kansas have resumed checking eligibility — and the process has not been going well.

Molly Gotobed laughed when asked if Medicaid unwinding in Kansas had been as bad as she expected.

"Every bit," she said.

Gotobed is the program director at Kansas Assistance Network/Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, which helps people navigate health insurance. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, states weren't allowed to remove people from Medicaid unless they moved, died or asked to be unenrolled.

Now, Missouri and Kansas have started checking patients' eligibility again — and removing people who they say no longer qualify.

But it hasn't been a smooth process. Thousands of patients in both states, andmillions nationwide, have lost health coverage for a variety of procedural reasons, including problems receiving or submitting paperwork, or not understanding the process.

And while some have re-applied and gotten their coverage back, strict Medicaid rules in Kansas mean many, including Robyn Adams of Newton, fall into a group that doesn't qualify for state insurance and can't afford marketplace rates.

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