Thousands of Virginians could lose Medicaid as pandemic protections unwind

Thousands of Virginians could lose Medicaid starting today as pandemic-era protections begin to unwind.

The end of a federal program that kept people on Medicaid during the pandemic, even if their eligibility changed, means that beginning May 1st, Virginia is determining if nearly 400,000 Medicaid recipients in the Commonwealth still qualify for coverage. 


How to shop for new insurance if you lose Medicaid coverage

States will start cutting people from the government-funded plans when they no longer qualify based on income, a process that has been paused since shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Virginia, Medicaid enrollment grew from 1.5 million to almost 2.2 million. The process of "thinning" those numbers is known as "Medicaid unwinding." 

Rachel Deane, CEO of "Voices for Virginia's Children" tells FOX 5 that this will impact children in the state the most as well as Latino and Black families. She said: "This was continuous eligibility. There was also the public health emergency; there was additional SNAP benefits for families. What’s happening with all of these COVID-era policies is that they are phasing out or winding down."

Georgetown's Center for Children & Families report that on day one of this "unwinding," 9,500 people lost Medicare coverage and more than 2,000 of those are children. 

Maryland and DC will join 22 other srtates in June that will also begin this unwinding of Medicaid coverage. All states are required to have the process complete by May 2024.