The Giraldos came into one of our Foundation Communities Prosper Centers recently interested in getting signed up for affordable health care coverage. Benefits Assistance staff members helped them get their youngest child signed up for Medicaid and determined that they were also eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The rest of the family was eligible for Marketplace health insurance plans and tax credits to make them affordable.
Foundation Communities launched the Prosper Benefits Assistance Program in the spring of this year. That was just in time to help tackle a healthcare crisis. According to some lawmakers, about a million Texans have lost access to Medicaid since April. That’s when the automatic renewal for Medicaid that was put in place by the Biden Administration because of COVID-19 expired. Some critics are saying that many of those who were not renewed for Medicaid still met the eligibility requirements, they just didn’t renew in time because the state failed to inform people about the change and assist them with renewal.
Many Central Texans who recently lost Medicaid benefits are being referred to Foundation Communities by other nonprofits such as Casa Marianela, or healthcare providers like CommunityCare. A big reason is our ability to renew clients for Medicaid through our Benefits Assistance Program, or to sign them up for Marketplace health insurance plans through our Health Coverage program if they no longer qualify for Medicaid.
So, what are we hearing from those clients? Foundation Communities Benefits Enrollment Specialist Jessica Valdez says many are angry or confused about being dropped from Medicaid. They’re worried because their children don’t have health insurance, especially if they have a child who needs ongoing care. Many of the referrals from clinics are people who had been denied care because of disenrollment, and in some cases enough time has passed that they need to start a whole new application for Medicaid. Valdez said, “A significant number were dropped because they weren’t aware they had to apply for renewal. Many had moved and didn’t receive mailed notifications and hadn’t checked the app or web site. Application completion and documentation is where most people get stuck.”
There is a lot of documentation required to apply for Medicaid. Sometimes applicants are asked to provide documentation they had already submitted. “Sometimes, people tell us they don’t have time to collect documents while having to work and care for their families,” said Valdez. “Particularly, employer verification forms can be difficult to obtain.”
Valdez shared this advice for Central Texas Medicaid recipients:
- Be informed on when you need to renew.
- Update your contact information with HHS. You can call 2-1-1 or go to yourtexasbenefits.com to make updates.
- Come see us! We can help troubleshoot and get you through the application process. Learn how here.
Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured residents, and with all the non-renewals this year, that number is soaring. Not having health insurance can lead some devastating outcomes for health and finances. Foundation Communities is working to help Central Texans get through the process of enrolling in Medicaid, or affordable coverage through the Healthcare.gov Marketplace. The Giraldo family is resting easier knowing they have affordable health insurance. Carlos Giraldo said, “My family and I are very grateful for the advice that Jessica and Gigi at Foundation Communities gave us, with their kindness, advice and guidance they helped us to currently have the benefits to which we applied. Really the existence of organizations like this is valuable for those who migrate and are the light in the middle of the process.”