Thousands of residents lose Medicaid as MT reevaluates eligibility

Jun 22, 2023

Montana Public Radio | By Austin Amestoy

Published June 20, 2023 at 6:21 PM MDT

More than 15,000 Montanans lost Medicaid coverage in April, according to new data from the state health department. That number will grow as the state continues to reevaluate program eligibility.

The data show more than half of Medicaid case reviews completed in April so far have resulted in lost coverage. Of those, nearly three-quarters were disenrolled because the state didn’t receive additional information about income or household size it said it asked recipients to send.

The disenrollments are part of a nationwide process as states take another look at Medicaid recipients’ eligibility for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jackie Semmens is an analyst with Montana Budget and Policy Center, which advocates in part for families living on low incomes. She said she expected turnover rates to be high, but the rate of coverage lost for procedural reasons surprised her.

“The concerning thing to me is Montana is really flying through our redeterminations, and a third of people have already had their Medicaid redetermination initiated,” Semmens said. “And, we’re just now getting the data to see if it’s working or not, and clearly, it isn’t.”

Semmens said the state should slow down and spread out processing for the more than 113,000 cases it has yet to examine, and make more attempts to reach out to current recipients through social media and local leaders.

A May study from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed a majority of people nationwide weren’t aware states could begin disenrolling people from Medicaid. Nearly half of respondents had never been through the renewal process.

Those who lose Medicaid coverage can reach out to Cover Montana at for help finding new health insurance.

Health department spokesperson Jon Ebelt said in an email that the state prioritized processing cases that were likely to be ineligible first, and that it wasn’t surprising some renewal packets weren’t returned. He added that anyone who loses can reapply if they believe they are still eligible.

Montana Budget & Policy Center

Shaping policy for a stronger Montana.

MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.