Fewer than 9,000 Marylanders lost Medicaid coverage last month, the lowest number of terminations since April, when the state began discontinuing coverage on a monthly basis in what’s called the “Medicaid unwinding.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people were not required to reapply for the low-income federal health insurance program annually, with the goal to insure as many people as possible during the global health emergency.

Now that the public health emergency has ended, Medicaid enrollment is no longer automatic and the Maryland Department of Health is conducting Medicaid redeterminations in phases for 1.8 million Marylanders.

For the seventh month of the state’s phased approach, there were 117,751 cases due for renewal determinations. Of the October redeterminations, 102,688 enrollees maintained Medicaid coverage, according to state data published Monday. There were still 6,868 cases pending review for the month.

But there were 8,195 people who were disenrolled in October because they were no longer eligible to receive Medicaid coverage. People are typically deemed “ineligible” because they either earn too much or aged into Medicare, the health insurance program for people 65 and older.

October’s data shows the lowest number of people disenrolled due to ineligibility since April, when the first round of Medicaid redeterminations resulted in just 387 people deemed ineligible for coverage that month.

The Department of Health has prioritized “those most likely to be ineligible for renewal in the first six months of unwinding, or through November 2023.”

Between May and September, the number of people no longer eligible for Medicaid coverage each month ranged from 10,032 to 14,647. A total of 69,278 people have been rolled off coverage since April, according to the most recent data. Those who no longer qualify are encouraged to shop for health coverage on the state’s insurance market for an individual private plan if they do not receive coverage from an employer.

Some disenrollment data remains missing for the third month in a row, after the state suspended procedural terminations for people who did not finish the reapplication process or did not start it.

In September, Maryland Matters reported that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instructed states to suspend the termination of Medicaid enrollment for “procedural reasons, as the federal agency learned that some enrollees were inappropriately losing coverage. As a result, CMS also instructed states to reinstate Medicaid coverage for some who had lost theirs.

Procedural terminations in Maryland are resuming in November, and people who lose coverage for failing to complete the paperwork will be reflected in December’s data, according to the Department of Health.

The unwinding process is a massive undertaking that has resulted in several challenges along the way, Maryland Matters previously reported.

Unlike some states, which have been aggressive with their disenrollments, Maryland health officials have dedicated resources to attempt to maintain coverage for as many Marylanders as possible.

This article was originally published on MarylandMatters.org and is republished with permission.

Danielle J. Brown is a new Maryland resident covering health care and equity for Maryland Matters. Previously, she covered state education policy for three years at the Florida Phoenix, along with other...

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