Amid the End of COVID-19 Protections, Millions Face a Coverage Cliff

The White House announced on January 30 that the public health emergency regarding COVID-19 would end in May. The decision to discontinue the emergency will have far-reaching consequences. Numerous health measures that many Americans have depended on will no longer be widely available. These include free immunizations, booster doses, testing, and treatments.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans who currently have Medicaid coverage will lose it as a result. The Biden administration estimates that 15 million people will lose their Medicaid or CHIP coverage as the programs resume regular operations. These demographics account for 17% of total Medicaid enrollment nationwide.

According to a federal report, many of the 15 million will be dropped because they no longer qualify. Unfortunately, nearly half will be dropped for procedural reasons, such as failing to respond to requests for updated personal information.

According to a survey conducted in February by the Urban Institute, most Americans enrolled in Medicaid are unaware that they must act to maintain their coverage. Poverty is a factor that can make it challenging to obtain necessary information. For example, researchers at Harvard University estimate that more than 42 million people in the United States do not have access to high-speed internet.

There are additional difficulties due to disabilities or linguistic barriers. Samuel Camacho is a health insurance navigator for the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio. Camacho assists Spanish speakers in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

He says the process has become much more difficult because the agency’s local offices in charge of Medicaid have been closed to the public since the start of the pandemic. Because of the closures, people don’t always have access to an interpreter.

Disabled people are frequently sent inaccessible healthcare information. A blind woman claims that since 2010, an insurance provider in California has discontinued her coverage every year after sending her documentation for “verification of benefits” that she could not read.

On April 1, states began cutting low-income Americans off Medicaid rolls that had expanded to record levels due to a pandemic-era promise that those with health insurance could maintain it – a federal pledge no longer being honored.

The elimination of the temporary guarantee that had been in place for the past three years has saddled every state with a massive task. States must determine which Medicaid beneficiaries qualify.

April 1 was the earliest date allowed under a recent federal law to cut off beneficiaries who no longer qualify for Medicaid or have not presented documentation that they still need the program. By May and July, almost all other states will start unenrolling people. Over half of the states have begun the preliminary process of determining eligibility.

Medicaid is a lifeline for millions of low-income Americans. People may remain uninsured if they lose their coverage. Those without insurance cannot receive immediate medical services. They cannot afford medications, doctor visits, preventative care, and other essential services. For some, losing insurance is the difference between life and death.


Frost, Riordan. “Pandemic Highlights Disparities in High-Speed Internet Service.” Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University, 8 Sept. 2021,

Goldstein, Amy. “Millions Poised to Lose Medicaid as Pandemic Coverage Protections End.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1 Apr. 2023,

Galewitz, Phil. “As Pandemic-Era Medicaid Provisions Lapse, Millions Approach a Coverage Cliff.” Kaiser Health News, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2 Feb. 2023,

Godoy, Maria. “Medicaid Renewals Are Starting. Those Who Don’t Reenroll Could Get Kicked Off.” NPR, NPR, 21 Mar. 2023,

Park, Alice. “What End of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in U.S. Means.” Time, Time Inc., 31 Jan. 2023,

Weber, Lauren, and Hannah Recht. “Medical Bills Remain Inaccessible for Many Visually Impaired Americans.” NPR, NPR, 1 Dec. 2022,

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