The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released guidance that gives states a powerful new tool that will prevent millions of people from losing Medicaid. The tool will also help states cope with overwhelming administrative burdens and strengthen Medicaid’s program integrity. Specifically, when Medicaid redeterminations begin after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), states are allowed to automatically renew Medicaid eligibility for beneficiaries under age 65 who receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly all SNAP participants qualify for Medicaid, which is why this new option makes so much sense. To achieve the greatest possible efficiency gains, states should immediately begin developing automated systems to identify beneficiaries who participate in SNAP and renew them electronically.
Medicaid beneficiaries are likely to experience huge coverage losses when their eligibility is redetermined after the PHE ends. In this brief, we show how SNAP-based auto-renewal can:
- Preserve Medicaid for roughly half of all beneficiaries, extending especially significant protection to many families of color and white children in rural areas.
- Greatly lower administrative burdens facing often understaffed state and local agencies that are now facing the largest number of redeterminations in Medicaid program history.
- Strengthen program integrity by preventing eligible people from being terminated because of missing paperwork and by protecting states from unwarranted findings of payment error.