Yesterday, I read Alice Wong’s first article for Teen Vogue. Wong discusses the upcoming changes to Medicaid. The White House announced on January 30 that the public health emergency regarding COVID-19 would end in May.
Unfortunately, this will also result in millions of Americans losing health insurance through Medicaid. As the programs resume normal operations, the Biden administration predicts that 15 million people will lose Medicaid or CHIP coverage. Such populations account for 17% of Medicaid’s total enrollment nationwide.
Last week, I had an appointment with The Social Security Administration. The redetermination process occurs every few years to ensure I am still eligible for SSI. Employment, marital status, and living arrangements are just a few of the things that affect someone’s eligibility. I was asked numerous questions about everything from my bank account to my live-in PCA. I am even required to tell them if I’ve been outside the U.S. or imprisoned for more than 30 days.
In many states, Medicaid coverage is tied to SSI, which can lead to a loss of coverage if you are found ineligible. Massachusetts Medicaid pays my PCAs to help me with activities of daily living such as toileting, showering, and meal preparation. Medicaid is the only insurance that covers home and community-based services; therefore, I can’t lose coverage.
Paying for medical expenses out of pocket would cause me to go bankrupt. My PCA hours cost over $50,000 annually. I also use a power wheelchair that costs more than $20,000. My walker is more than $1,000.
Medicaid provides essential services to millions of people in this country, including therapies, medications, home and community-based services, and medical equipment. Losing Medicaid coverage could mean that people remain uninsured. For some people losing insurance is a matter of life or death.
Galewitz, Phil. “As Pandemic-Era Medicaid Provisions Lapse, Millions Approach a Coverage Cliff.” Kaiser Health News, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2 Feb. 2023, https://khn.org/news/article/medicaid-unwinding-coverage-loss-states-post-pandemic/.
Park, Alice. “What End of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in U.S. Means.” Time, Time Inc., 31 Jan. 2023, https://time.com/6251520/covid-19-public-health-emergency-ends-what-changes/.
“Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI)– Redeterminations.” The United States Social Security Administration , The United States Social Security Administration , https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-redets-ussi.htm.
Wong, Alice. “It Is a Lot of Work to Be Poor and Disabled.” Teen Vogue, Condé Nast, 21 Mar. 2023, https://www.teenvogue.com/story/medicaid-coverage-covid.