Upcoming Changes to Medicaid in Montana

Upcoming Changes to Medicaid in Montana

Post Date: Apr 05, 2023
News & Press

In March 2020, the public health emergency of Covid-19 rocked the world. And with it came changes to the eligibility requirements for Montana Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids (HMK). But now, Medicaid in Montana is changing again, both returning to normal and with some key updates. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Covid changed Medicaid in Montana

This was a big move by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to help keep people covered during the crisis. DPHHS suspended the annual renewal process, didn’t process changes in circumstances that might lead to a loss of coverage, and automatically continued coverage unless an individual specifically requested otherwise or moved out of state. This made it easier for people to keep their coverage during the pandemic.

Why it’s changing now

Now as much of the world moves on to a new normal. The DPHHS is going back to the standard eligibility requirements and renewal processes. That doesn’t necessarily need to be alarming. Let’s take a look at what’s going on.

What the differences will be

For the most part, the changes that are happening will bring Montana Medicaid back to where it was pre-pandemic. That means that the annual renewal is back, as well as processing reported changes in circumstances that may affect coverage. That can include changes in household size or changes in income, according to DPHHS.

There is one big difference from pre-pandemic to now. In 2021, the Montana legislature passed a budget that removed the 12-month continuous eligibility policy from Medicaid in the state. The old policy meant that a change in circumstance impacting someone’s eligibility usually wouldn’t take effect until the end of that 12-month period. But now, the DPHHS will need to assess eligibility after each reported change in circumstance.

Who this does and doesn’t impact

Now, adults covered under the Medicaid expansion or the parent/caretaker relative category will be assessed after any change in circumstance to see if they’re still eligible for Medicaid. However, children covered by Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids will keep that 12-month continuous eligibility. And covered adults with severe disabling mental illness will as well.

Apart from the change in 12-month continuous eligibility, anyone covered by Medicaid will need to renew annually again. Some people will be able to renew coverage automatically. But some will need to complete a renewal package.

What to expect

If you are one of the people who can renew automatically, you’ll receive a letter in the mail from DPHHS. If you need to complete a renewal package, you’ll receive it by mail. It’s important to complete it and respond appropriately to make sure you can renew your coverage. Not doing so will mean loss of coverage.

How to renew

You should be notified if you need to complete your renewal. If you need to update your address, submit that change online so DPHHS can get in contact with you. There are a few easy ways to renew. You can go online to apply.mt.gov. You can also call the public assistance hotline at 1-888-706-1535 or mail or fax the completed packet to DPHHS. By calling or going online, you can also renew any SNAP or TANF benefits at the same time. Households have 30 days to complete their renewal paperwork after they’re notified.

Be aware of how changes may affect you, and take the steps you need to in order to keep your coverage. Residents of Park and Meagher counties may be able to get extra help with applications for government assistance through the CHP Pathways Program. If you have questions or need help, get in touchto see if the staff can assist you.