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Thursday, February 22, 2024
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Medicaid Unraveling Causes Call Center Backlogs, Hindering Access to Additional Safety-Net Programs-1

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Backlogs Low-income families seeking safety-net services face challenges as the Medicaid disenrollment process leads to bureaucratic backlogs, affecting services such as food and cash assistance.

Collateral Damage for Low-Income Families

The Medicaid “unwinding” has resulted in the termination of coverage for millions of people since April, causing collateral damage for low-income families. Delays in applications, lost paperwork, and overwhelmed government call centers contribute to difficulties in accessing safety-net services.

Shared Resources and Overlapping Challenges: Backlogs

Most states rely on the same workers and computer systems for Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility. The overlapping challenges create obstacles for people seeking assistance, exacerbating long-standing issues such as long wait times and limited in-person support.

SNAP Enrollment Challenges

SNAP enrollment, which is about half of Medicaid, has also faced challenges. Changes in policies, expired benefits, and reinstated work requirements contribute to the complexities of the SNAP program. Delays in processing applications and difficulties in accessing benefits highlight the broader consequences of the Medicaid disenrollment process.

Impacts Across States: Montana, Missouri, and Virginia

States such as Montana, Missouri, and Virginia report challenges in processing applications, with paperwork disappearing and calls going unanswered. The difficulties are particularly pronounced in areas where local offices handle both Medicaid and SNAP applications.

Missouri Lawsuit and Systemic Flaws

In Missouri, a federal lawsuit highlights dysfunctional systems preventing low-income residents from getting food aid. More than half of Missouri applicants were denied aid due to challenges in completing interviews, not because of eligibility issues.

Individual Stories: Struggles to Access Benefits

Individual stories underscore the struggles faced by applicants. Long waits, dropped calls, and challenges in completing required interviews create barriers for vulnerable populations. The systemic flaws in the application process have escalated into a crisis for those in need.

Urgency for Addressing Access Issues: Backlogs

Advocates emphasize the urgency of addressing these access issues, especially for vulnerable populations who are already living on the edge. The need for timely processing of applications and improved support systems becomes crucial as the disenrollment process continues.

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