Nearly Half of Kansans Losing Health Coverage are Minors: Unraveling the Impact of Medicaid Unwinding

By Trish Svoboda

After a large-scale review of Medicaid eligibility in Kansas, approximately 47% of the people who lost their state health insurance coverage were 18 or younger. Of the 75,532 Kansans who lost coverage, 24,673 were aged 0-12 and another 10,632 were aged 13-18, as reported by The Kansas Reflector. The review process, known as “unwinding”, began in April 2023 after pandemic-era federal protections ended. It was marked by early disorganization, slow mail delivery, and unclear communication from the state.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal “continuous coverage” provisions prevented Medicaid administrators from ending healthcare eligibility unless the person moved away, died, or asked to end coverage. This led to an increase in KanCare participation from 410,000 to 540,000 people during the pandemic.

Despite adding more staff and resources, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) completed the unwinding process on May 31 with thousands of Kansans still needing to reapply for coverage. Currently, these individuals are living without health insurance until reinstatement.

The most recent data shows 318,791 people in the state will keep their coverage, while another 75,420 Kansans will need to reapply because they missed the reinstatement window. Across the country, more than 20 million people have been removed from services since the start of Medicaid unwinding, with 69% having their coverage terminated for procedural reasons.

Advocates urge for more KDHE outreach and education, especially for families stuck in the reinstatement window. They also advocate for Medicaid expansion, which would expand state health insurance coverage for lower-income families and unlock $700 million in annual federal funding. However, due to opposition from top Republican legislative leadership, the bill for Medicaid expansion died in committee during the 2024 legislative session.

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