Home » Hawaii Medicaid Recipients Hit Roadblocks During State’s Massive Renewal Push
Featured Hawaii News United States

Hawaii Medicaid Recipients Hit Roadblocks During State’s Massive Renewal Push

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Tens of thousands of Hawaii residents on Medicaid must re-enroll for the health care program for the first time since emergency rules put in place during the pandemic prevented people from losing their coverage.

And many are finding stressful roadblocks as the state tries to spread out the increased workload.

Before the pandemic there were about 327,000 people on Medicaid in Hawaii. That rose to about 468,000 — and all must re-enroll this year as part of an annual eligibility review process.

Starting in April, the state began processing 35,000 to 40,000 renewals a month.

Richard Kapoi and his partner, Ann Fujii, both ran into trouble with the process and received disqualification notices, even though all needed documentation was filed. “It really bothers me and her because we’re like, we were doing everything possible they want us to do,” Kapoi said.

Losing coverage was particularly stressful and dangerous for Kapoi, who needs ongoing treatment and medications. “I give myself about a year and a half before I pass away,” Kapoi said.

“I got cancer that’s what the issue is.”

State Hawaii Department of Human Services Deputy Director Joseph Campos said the agency is working to make sure no one eligible loses coverage.

“If they were dis-enrolled, and they think they are eligible, we encourage them to reapply to ensure that they get the benefits that they are eligible for,” Campos said.

Because the renewal dates are spread out to March 2024, Campos urges people to wait until they are notified that it’s their time to renew.

“We want to make sure that we get to those who are going to be lapsing immediately,” he said.

He also said there is a cushion in case something goes wrong.

“People have 90 days to be renewed from the date that they’re no longer eligible,” Campos said. “This actually gives us a really nice window, to be able to ensure that our backlogs are not large.”

That cushion did gave Kapoi and Fujii time to work with their Medicare agent to get their coverage approved. But Kapoi said he feels the state could have been more prepared for the challenge.

“Now if the state can do plenty people for election … why can’t they just find couple of guys for help them out?” Kapoi said.

The state says if a beneficiary has any doubt, they should make sure the state has a current address for alerts. Meanwhile, the renewal process is slimming down enrollment the program. The state said about 10,000 people have left QUEST, the name for the Medicaid program in Hawaii, in the three months since renewals began — mostly because they’ve found jobs with health insurance or their income has risen enough to make them ineligible.

Source : HawaiiNewsNow