91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Stateside Podcast: How to navigate your Medicaid paperwork

Wellness Corporate Solutions via Flickr | www.wellnesscorporatesolutions.com

Medicaid beneficiaries across the country are being asked to re-verify their eligibility this year. The re-verification process was put on hold throughout the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, so many beneficiaries are filling out Medicaid renewal paperwork for the first time. Some beneficiaries will be determined ineligible due to income limits, but others may be cut from Medicaid for failing to return paperwork or include certain documents.

An analysis from Kaiser Family Foundation Health News found that as of June 1, 2023, over 600,000 people nationally lost their Medicaid coverage. Four out of five of these people lost their coverage for reasons like missing paperwork. MDHHS is sending out renewal paperwork in waves, and individuals have one month after receiving a renewal packet in the mail to submit their Medicaid renewal paperwork online. For individuals who received their renewal packet in May as part of the first wave, the deadline to return the packet has been extended from June 30 to July 31.

Throughout the last few months, Michiganders have been struggling to get assistance with Medicaid renewal, and sometimes experience over an hour of support service wait time with MDHHS’s Medicaid beneficiary helpline.

“When we work with our beneficiaries and we do a three-way call, or we try to do a warm transfer to the call helpline, we're getting notices that the call is upwards of anywhere from an hour to 2 hours, or they're quite far down the line in the queue," said Becky McIntyre, a regional Medicaid and Medicare Assistance Program (MMAP) coordinator with the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress.

Another big issue that people are facing is logging into MI Bridges, a website created by the State of Michigan to make it easier for Michiganders to apply for federal and state benefits like food assistance, childcare, cash assistance, and healthcare coverage. Individuals who have not used the MI Bridges interface in the past two years no longer have access to their accounts, and need to start over in rejoining the MI Bridges interface. Plus, if a person lives in a rural area that has little or no Wi-Fi connectivity, filing paperwork online is a challenge.

“We have some issues with connectivity in a lot of our rural regions,” McIntyre said. “So a lot of the time, our MMAP counselors and our operators who work here in the U.P. . . can assist with those applications virtually. The issue that we have is a lot of people don't have either a solid and significant internet access, depending upon where they live on the grid, or even reliable cell service.

The MI Bridges verification process uses a credit history verification system, which is difficult for individuals who have recently arrived in the US, because they have no credit history. The verification system also poses issues for victims of identity fraud and individuals who do not speak English as a first language.

“MDHSS knows that this is an issue. It has been an issue for a long time, and there doesn't seem to be a fix for [it],” said Meredith Buhalis, program manager for the Washtenaw Health Plan.

In spite of the issues, it is still recommended that beneficiaries going through the renewal process use their online MI Bridges account to submit their paperwork instead of returning the paper packet in the mail. Submitting on the MI Bridges website allows the filer to see the submission go through. When filing paperwork online, there are records of paperwork being filed with timestamp indications, which allow individuals to prove that their renewal form was submitted within the deadline. If beneficiaries have access to a strong WiFi connection, submitting paperwork via MI Bridges is the best option. If individuals prefer to submit the physical paper form, McIntyre recommends going to a local DHS office with two copies of the forms – one to drop off, and one to take home to prove the paperwork was completed

“Make sure that they have two copies of everything and, you know, they can get it date-stamped when they drop off at the office, and they can get a date stamp on their copy to take home as well,” McIntyre said.

If you are having problems or are struggling to figure out paperwork, contact your local community -based organizationon the MI Bridges website. You can also go to your local Health and Human Services department for assistance. DHS offices are required by the Bridges Administrative Manual to physically assist individuals in completing Medicaid paperwork when asked.

“If somebody walks into a local DHS office and asks for assistance in filling out an application, the bridge's administrative manual states that they are required to give help to that individual,” McIntyre explained. “They can't just hand them the paper application, they can't just point them to a computer. They must assist the beneficiary in filling out that application.” 

[Get Stateside on your phone: subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify today.]

Looking for more conversations from Stateside? Right this way.

If you like what you hear on the pod, consider supporting our work.

Stay Connected
Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.
Lauren Nyong joined the Stateside team as an intern in May 2023 and is a Junior studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at Calvin University.