Nadia Ramlagan, Producer


Friday, April 1, 2022   
In a letter sent to the Department of Health and Human Services this week, the American Hospital Association and other health-care groups asked the agency to extend its declaration of a Public Health Emergency.

The policy is officially set to expire in about two weeks, and while experts have said it could be extended until summer, the change will likely prompt confusion for families on the status of their child's Medicaid or CHIP coverage.

Julianne Yacovone, Director of Child Health at West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, said changes in income status and other factors that determine eligibility can lead to sudden drops in coverage.

"In West Virginia, this could mean that thousands of children could lose their coverage, simply because their parents aren't aware of the expiration," she said. "They may not be aware of what steps they need to take and what information they need to provide to keep that coverage."

A report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that millions of children who rely on Medicaid or CHIP are at risk of becoming uninsured if the Public Health Emergency's continuous-coverage requirement is lifted.

Yacovone said the change could be drastic for some parents, depending on their child's health-care needs.

"Things like asthma inhalers can be way out of a person's price range if they do not have that coverage," she said.

Yacovone said she thinks West Virginia should be working to increase awareness that the Public Health Emergency is ending.

"They can make the renewal process accessible online," she said, "and make it simple, straightforward - say, 'This is what we need from you, so you don't lose your coverage.'"

A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation predicted that around 8% of kids on Medicaid or CHIP will be dropped from coverage when the emergency ends.

Cindy Harless


West Virginians for Affordable Health Care is a non-profit advocacy organization bringing a consumer voice to public policy.