No plans to halt Medicaid unwinding in Hurricane Idalia-affected counties

The federal government sent letters to state Medicaid directors Aug. 30 saying it had 'identified issues where states are out of compliance with renewal requirements.'

Florida is not planning to suspend Medicaid redeterminations in counties hit by Hurricane Idalia, a top state official said Wednesday night.

Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Secretary Jason Weida, whose agency oversees the multi-billion-dollar safety net health care program, said he had spoken to the head of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) the day before the storm hit and at that time there were no plans to pause the “unwinding” process currently underway.

Florida’s Medicaid rolls swelled during the COVID-19 pandemic because states were given extra federal funding. During the federal public health emergency states could not remove enrollees from the program even if their eligibility status had changed. That ended in the spring and states have been culling their rolls, a process that has been called “unwinding.”

Before the storm hit, public interest groups had asked the state to pause redeterminations and ultimately sued the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis in federal court alleging the state’s process violated people’s due process rights.

The federal government sent out a letter to state Medicaid directors warning states about how it is conducting Medicaid redeterminations and said it had “identified issues where states are out of compliance with renewal requirements.” The letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instructs “all Medicaid and CHIP agencies to review their renewal processes” and pause procedural terminations and reinstate coverage for those who were not disenrolled properly.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (DCF), praised the Biden administration for taking this step.

“Their new guidance is clear; states that have this problem must stop the redetermination process immediately, reinstate those children and others that were inappropriately terminated and fix their systems before they resume the unwinding process for families,” Alker said in a statement.

DCF did not respond to Florida Politics’ request for comment on the Aug. 30 CMS letter.

Idalia slammed into the Big Bend region early Wednesday after strengthening as it came through the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Ahead of the storm, DeSantis declared a state of emergency in nearly 50 counties.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • Florida Resident

    August 31, 2023 at 7:38 am

    J-Man is obviously too busy stripping coverage from trans folks to worry about those impacted by the hurricane. There is zero integrity among AHCA’s leadership.

  • Michael K

    August 31, 2023 at 9:00 am

    Florida is an outlier among 10 other “red” states that refuse to expand Medicaid. Meanwhile, voters in deep red states like Missouri overwhelmingly overturned the legislature by using a ballot initiative to ensure the poorest of the poor have health insurance.

    Cruelty always seems to be the point in these Florida policies.

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