MCJ Calls for Mississippi To Keep Children and New Moms Covered During Medicaid Unwinding

A Message from Linda Dixon, Director of Health Law at Mississippi Center for Justice

As Mississippi begins checking Medicaid eligibility for the first time in three years, the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) is concerned about initial reports on the process. During this “unwinding” process, we need to make every effort to ensure that eligible children and families keep their Medicaid coverage.  Two-thirds of children in Mississippi rely on Medicaid for their health insurance – so there is much at stake in this process – for children and their families. We must ensure the number of uninsured children does not go up.

Because Mississippi has not expanded Medicaid, children and parents are the bulk of those impacted by this process. Mississippi recently extended coverage for new mothers to 12 months postpartum – and they too must be protected during this process. In Mississippi, this is even more true for rural communities who are reliant on Medicaid for their health insurance.

Looking at the first round of data, we see that 29,460 people lost coverage in the first month of this process with 80% terminated not because they were not eligible, but for procedural or red tape reasons. Undoubtedly most of those losing coverage are children, postpartum women, and parents. In most cases, Mississippi children are likely to remain eligible for Medicaid – or CHIP if their families’ income increased.

MCJ is committed to working with the Mississippi Division of Medicaid and local partners to protect Mississippians’ access to health care as the Medicaid renewal process continues in the months ahead.  We will continue to explore ways we can work together to keep those who remain eligible for Medicaid and CHIP covered, but we need more data and a commitment to ensure that eligible children and new moms are protected. When almost 30,000 Mississippians have lost coverage in one month, the time to act is now.