(The Center Square) – The Louisiana Department of Health expects about 250,000 will lose Medicaid coverage through re-eligibility reviews over the next year, a number officials are working to minimize.

Louisiana Medicaid is 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 requirement prohibited states from reviewing Medicaid eligibility in return for higher payments during the pandemic, and in Louisiana enrollment has swelled by 435,991 enrollees since the pandemic began in March 2020.

“Louisiana Medicaid is estimating a net decrease of approximately 250,000 individuals,” LDH spokeswoman Mindy Faciane wrote in an email to The Center Square. “We anticipate that members will lose coverage and we will see a significant amount of churn over the coming months. In addition, we anticipate that we will have new applicants throughout the unwind period.”

Louisiana began the process at the end of April for renewals in June, which showed the first monthly enrollment decline in at least the last year. 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 in June.

“There were some reasons … that members closed (or coverage ended) in May and that is reflected in the enrollment report,” Faciane said. “With a few exceptions, most disenrollments began July 1, 2023.”

To help beneficiaries and providers understand the process, Louisiana Medicaid launched an outreach campaign through multiple channels, from traditional media to in-person contacts.

“In addition to mailed letters, members who have shared a mobile telephone number receive text message reminders. Louisiana Medicaid also utilizes traditional paid media and grassroots outreach efforts to reach Medicaid members. This includes radio and TV advertising, digital advertising and on-site, in-person outreach, including targeted door-to-door canvassing to share information with Medicaid members,” Faciane said.

Members determined to be ineligible are referred to the federal health insurance exchange, she said.

Vance Ginn, economist with the Pelican Institute, suggests the “return to normal” will be a net positive for Louisiana in more ways than one.

“I think this is a good step in the right direction for a return to normal and for people to have incentives to get back to work,” he said. “If there’s fewer people on Medicaid … taxpayers will have more money in their pockets.”

“It may also help with some of the labor shortages going on,” Ginn said.