Medicaid Renewal Process a Barrier for Kentuckians Struggling with Housing

by Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service

Medicaid benefits can help people stay housed or get connected to resources that can help them find housing. And experts say the state’s Medicaid renewal process – triggered by the end of pandemic-era continuous-coverage protections – could negatively impact Kentuckians who need housing help.

At the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky, Health Outreach Navigator Natalee Cleveland helps housing clients work through the paperwork related to Medicaid, SNAP, and other benefits.

She said the renewal process is challenging for individuals who aren’t able to confirm eligibility information.

“In many cases,” said Cleveland, “the people that I’m working with don’t have a cell phone, they don’t know how to work the internet, don’t have access to the internet to provide these things for themselves.”

Groups such as Kentucky Voices for Health say Medicaid renewal notices will be sent through next May, requesting extra details to assess household eligibility.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, between 8 million and 24 million people nationwide are expected to lose Medicaid coverage during the unwinding of the continuous enrollment provision.

Scott McReynolds – executive director the Housing Development Alliance – said many Commonwealth residents, especially those whose contact information isn’t updated, could lose Medicaid without realizing it – and end up paying out-of-pocket for emergency medical care or other health care.

The added financial burden puts more people at risk for losing housing.

“Somebody’s not going to lose their Medicaid and be homeless tomorrow,” said McReynolds. “But if they lose their Medicaid today, a few months down the road, they may run into trouble, and it may be too late at that point to get somebody back on.”

Cleveland added that many families are struggling to get back on their feet after losing income during the pandemic.

“So all these things are leading back to food insecurities, housing insecurities,” said Cleveland, “big things that take a toll on people’s lives, take a toll on a person’s health.”

According to the latest data, around four thousand Kentuckians experience homelessness on a given night in January each year.

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Top graphic: Adobe Stock, adapted by The Lexington Times