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Thousands Of Medicaid Recipients Lose Health Coverage

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Nelly Kinsella demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website, where consumers will be able to shop for health insurance, following a news conference Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Seattle.

Washington residents who tried to buy health insurance through the health exchange weren’t the only ones to experience technical difficulties.

About 20,000 Medicaid recipients encountered similar problems when they went to the exchange in November, preventing them from renewing their coverage. That’s roughly a third of Medicaid patients for that month.Medicaid recipients are required to renew their coverage every year if they want to stay on the program. Last November, people whose coverage was set to expire at the end of the month were directed to the state’s Healthplanfinder. But many weren’t able to complete the renewal process.

To date, 10,000 have had their coverage restored, according to Washington state Medicaid director MaryAnne Lindeblad.

Lindeblad said part of the problem was that system was down for maintenance.

“And when the system was down, they weren’t able to go online to do that,” she said. “They might not have been able to get through one of the phone lines. The Healthplanfinder had significant phone problems.”

As for the remaining 10,000 who had difficulty renewing, Lindeblad said some people’s life circumstances change, and they may no longer need state assistance.  Still, her agency continues to reach out to those who haven’t renewed. If they want to return to the program, they should contact the agency. 

Year started with KUOW: 1994