LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Thousands of Medicaid recipients in Louisiana are learning they may no longer be eligible for the taxpayer-financed health coverage. One southwest Louisiana mother says her two-year-old daughter got a denial letter last week.
“It’s scary. If something happens, we’re just going to have to bring her to the doctor and figure it out later," the mother, who chose not to be identified, said. “Even if that means we’re paying hospital bills for the next five, six, 10 or 20 years.”
The mother is dealing with uncertainty about her toddler’s health insurance.
The two-year-old is one of several thousand people across the state who’ve just learned they’ll no longer receive health coverage through Medicaid.
“And a lot of times at the hospitals, if you don’t have coverage they don’t want to give you care. I can’t imagine that for my baby," she said.
She says the letter came without warning. So far, she’s only received a letter for one of her two children, leaving her with lots of questions.
Ultimately, she’s afraid her family won’t be able to afford healthcare the next time her little girl gets sick.
“In the last six months alone, she’s been to the emergency room seven times; all for illnesses, never injury, I don’t know. I could be wrong. It’s almost like they just pulled random people and cut them," she said.
Health Secretary Rebekah Gee said the letters stem from a computer upgrade that does more frequent checks to ensure Medicaid enrollees don’t make too much money to be in the program. The Edwards administration has touted the system as addressing Republican lawmakers’ concerns the Medicaid program spent millions on people not eligible for the coverage.
As for why this mother only received a letter for one child, she offered this response.
“It might be that that child wasn’t up for renewal yet. It could be that the two children were were enrolled at different periods, so they get their membership updated annually," said Gee.
Gee says for those 37,000 people who received a letter, responding to it is key. So far, 7,000 residents have responded to their letter.
For this local mother and her family, they’ve done that and now, say they’ll just have to make adjustments to their daily life.
“My husband is studying right now to apply for a higher paying job in his field, so, right now, that’s the best that we can do," she said.
Gee said some people enrolled through Medicaid expansion likely have fluctuating or seasonal changes in employment that could keep them going in and out of the Medicaid program throughout the year as their wages change.
Anyone who has received a letter and wants to challenge it is urged to contact the Louisiana Department of Health.
P.O. Box 91283
Baton Rouge, La, 70821
Medicaid coverage will end by Mar. 31 for those who can’t prove they meet the income criteria.