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Louisiana’s Medicaid enrollment declines for the first time this year

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(The Center Square) — Louisiana Medicaid enrollment declined in June for the first time in the last year, with more than 3,000 falling off the rolls since May.

That decline is expected to accelerate as Louisiana begins reviewing eligibility for the state’s more than 2 million Medicaid beneficiaries following the expiration of the Medicaid continuous enrollment requirement on March 31.

The federal government prohibited states from reviewing Medicaid eligibility or removing beneficiaries during the public health emergency, and more than 3.7 million have been disenrolled nationwide since the restriction was lifted, according to Kaiser Family Foundation.

Louisiana is among 11 states that officially began disenrollments on July 11.

Data from the state’s most recent enrollment trends report for Medicaid shows total enrollment declined by 3,177 from May to 2,052,605 total enrollees in June. The change marks the first monthly decline in at least the last year, with enrollment increasing overall since a total of 1,982,593 in July 2022.

The June figure is 435,991 enrollees higher than the total enrollment of 1,616,614 when the pandemic began in March 2020, and 659,494 more enrolled than when Gov. John Bel Edwards expanded Medicaid in January 2016.

Louisiana expects to complete all Medicaid renewals within 12 to 14 months, but will not follow up with enrollees who need to take action to maintain coverage. The renewal process is mostly automated, with more than half of renewals conducted on an ex parte basis, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports.

The foundation estimates Louisiana could see 345,000 residents removed from Medicaid during the disenrollment period, which includes an estimated 559,500 adults and 85,500 children, based on a disenrollment rate of 18%.

The Medicaid unwinding comes as Louisiana’s labor force participation rate — the number of employed and unemployed workers divided by the state’s civilian population — continues to trend up from a pandemic low of 55% in April 2020.

The rate now stands at 59.6%, the highest level since June 2018’s 59.8% and 1.1% higher than March 2020. June marked the 27th consecutive month of over-the-year gains in employed individuals in the state, with the seasonally adjusted number of employed at the highest level ever for June at 2,037,455, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, remained unchanged from May at 3.6% in June, tied for the second-lowest rate in Louisiana history.

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