Margaret, a single parent, unable to work for medical reasons and reliant on Medicaid for part of her medical care, recently discovered her coverage had been terminated.
“In late December I got a call from my neurologist the day before an appointment that I had waited for months for, saying ‘You can’t come. You don’t have Medicaid coverage.’ I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t heard anything from Medicaid.
“I went to my local office and they looked it up and they said ‘Yes. We can see it in the computer. You were removed in October.’
“Now I had just re-certified in August, I’ve had it for four years, and I said ‘That can’t be right I was just re-certified.’”
The woman in the office told Margaret that her budget must have been re-calculated since then. She even attempted to go into the computer and change it back but failed. She advised Margaret to appeal.
“So I went down to the central Medicaid place. There’s a room full of people, and while I’m waiting I hear this over and over again. People saying, ‘I’ve been told I was cut off – I never got a letter, nobody told me.’”
When she spoke to an official at this office, Margaret was told she had the right to appeal and that she could be entitled to “aid to continue,” i.e., Medicaid coverage until the hearing.
“You have to ask for your hearing within 60 days of them changing your status. But I don’t find out about it ‘til after that because they never sent me a letter. I said to them, ‘Look in your computer, is there any record of you ever telling me about this?’ and they said no. But I still can’t get aid to continue.
“So think about all those people I saw in the same position as me, with no letters – and Medicaid sends you letters about everything. Every one of them won’t get coverage until their case comes up and I’ve no way of knowing how long I’ll be waiting. I’m told the system is backed up and there are only a few judges working on it. And they won’t reimburse you afterwards – not that that would help because people on Medicaid don’t have the money to pay for doctors and medicine up front.”
Margaret doubts that her situation is just accidental. Given that cutting Medicaid costs is one of the governor’s high priorities, she suspects that within the system there is pressure to reassess existing recipients using harsher guidelines. Failure to properly notify the recipients then compounds the issue.
“Even if some people win their appeals, think how much money the state has saved – just like that, kicking people off their Medicaid without sending them a notice.”