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With COVID-era rules ending, state reaching out to MassHealth participants to check eligibility

Mike Levine, assistant secretary for Mass Health holds up an envelope many Medicaid recipients could be receiving. The contents are documents asking for more information to help determine if a person is eligible to continue receiving benefits.
Adam Frenier
Mike Levine, assistant secretary for MassHealth, holds up an envelope many Medicaid recipients could be receiving. The documents ask for more information to help determine if a person is eligible to continue receiving benefits.

In Massachusetts, state officials said they are putting on a full-court press to make sure Medicaid recipients don't lose health coverage.

A pandemic-era federal rule prevented states from dropping recipients of the health care benefit program. But that has ended, and now states must determine eligibility for all who are enrolled. In Massachusetts, that adds up to 2.4 million people, a number which has grown by 600,000 since the pandemic began.

Part of the process is getting updated information from many people. Mike Levine, the assistant secretary for MassHealth, the state's Medicaid program, said the agency is doing more than just sending out mailers.

"You're not just getting a blue envelope,” he said during a press conference Wednesday in Springfield. “You're going to get a text, you're going to get a call, you're going to get email if you have email. We want to make sure that members know on every channel that action is required in order for them to preserve their coverage."

Not responding at all could mean an end to health care benefits. Levine implored those contacted to respond to the state.

"If you are a MassHealth member and you get a blue envelope, please open it, please read it, please respond," he said. "You can call, you can go online, you can fill out the form and send it back via mail.”

The state is also partnering with community groups to knock on doors to raise awareness about the situation. Of particular focus are the 15 Massachusetts communities where the most people could end up losing Medicaid. One of them is Springfield, where organizers say canvassers have knocked on the doors of 18,000 homes so far and spoken with more than 5,200 residents.

There is also a push to hold community campaigns and to distribute flyers through schools to help build awareness.

Gov. Maura Healey said this week the state is also aiming to make sure those who aren’t eligible to receive Medicaid, which could be up to 300,000 residents, still end up with insurance through the state’s health connector. That program often provides health insurance at subsidized rates.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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