Another 8,674 Mississippians lost their Medicaid coverage in the agency’s latest round of disenrollments in October. 

Since unwinding disenrollments began in June, Mississippi Medicaid has removed more than 90,000 people from its rolls. 

State Medicaid divisions started reviewing their rolls for the first time in three years this spring, when federal regulations that prevented them from disenrolling beneficiaries during the pandemic ended. Now, millions of Medicaid beneficiaries are losing their coverage in a process called “unwinding.”

In Mississippi, Medicaid dropped 29,460 people in June; 22,507 people in July; 16,659 people in August and 12,828 people in September. 

More than half of the people dropped thus far in Mississippi have been children. Since June, almost 55,000 kids have been disenrolled by Medicaid, according to the agency’s monthly enrollment reports. 

Kids are most at risk of losing benefits during unwinding, according to federal research

The new numbers also reflect a continuing trend: Most of those people were not dropped because they were found to be ineligible. They were dropped because of issues with their paperwork – called “procedural disenrollments.” 

Of the 8,674 people dropped in October, around 71% were procedural disenrollments. Mississippi reports an overall 76.5% procedural disenrollment rate thus far. 

According to KFF, 71% of all people disenrolled were terminated for procedural reasons across all states with available data as of Nov. 8. This is problematic, according to experts, because many of those people dropped for procedural reasons could still be eligible for Medicaid coverage. 

 The numbers of people being dropped are steadily decreasing each month because fewer people are due for review and the agency’s backlog is growing. 

Since July, the agency has been due to review a decreasing number of beneficiaries — from 75,110 to 70,069 in August, to 68,592 in September and 57,118 in October. 

But the backlog has generally increased, except for this past month — 15,574 reviews went uncompleted in July, to 18,008 in August, to 24,215 in September to 18,041 in October. 

The agency finally made a small dent this past month in its backlogs and decreased its number of uncompleted reviews by 3,058.

Mississippi Medicaid reached its highest enrollment in the agency’s history — more than 900,000 beneficiaries — the month before unwinding disenrollments began. Before the terminations began, children in low-income families made up more than half of the state’s Medicaid rolls. 

Now, after October’s disenrollments, the agency covers 823,416 Mississippians, about 49% of whom are kids. 

In the coming months, thousands more Mississippians will lose their Medicaid coverage during a statewide health care crisis. One report puts nearly half of the state’s rural hospitals at risk of closure, facing financial struggles caused in large part by uncompensated care, which is money hospitals lose providing care to people who are uninsured. 

As of Nov. 8, at least 10,135,000 Medicaid beneficiaries have been disenrolled nationally, according to KFF. The organization predicts up to 24 million people could lose coverage during unwinding. 

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Devna Bose, a Neshoba County native, covers community health. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied print journalism and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Devna reported on education at Chalkbeat Newark and at the Post and Courier’s Education Lab, and on race and social justice at the Charlotte Observer. Her work has appeared in the Hechinger Report, the Star-Ledger and the Associated Press, and she has appeared on WNYC to discuss her reporting. Devna has been awarded for her coverage of K-12 education in the Carolinas.