- Associated Press - Monday, February 11, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska’s backlog of Medicaid applications numbered 15,639 at the end of last month, with about two-thirds of the cases filed last year.

The backlog is down from the more than 20,000 cases noted in a state report in May, and it’s down from the 30,000 cases reported the prior year, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported last week.

The average wait time for an application to get approved is 55 days, said Clinton Bennett, media relations manager for the state Department of Health and Social Services. Some cases get processed quicker, he said.

“Cases that are tagged as emergent, involve a pregnant woman or adding a newborn to any case are being processed on average within 2 days,” Bennett said.

About 210,276 people are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, about 24 percent of the state’s population, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The state had 123,335 people enrolled in July 2015, before the Medicaid expansion took effect.

The state uses pre-enrollment eligibility verification that requires applicants’ income to be verified before they’re approved to enter the program, Bennett said. The state cooperates with the federally-facilitated marketplace to verify eligibility. If Healthcare.gov is unable to determine eligibility, the state will take over.

Alaska is among a few states that have extensive delays for processing applications, said Tricia Brooks, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. The federal standard is 45 days for non-disability Medicaid applications, and 90 days for disability Medicaid applications.

“Backlogs affect both new applications as well as renewals,” Brooks said. “If the state’s unable to keep up with renewals, they should not be automatically terminating someone because they’re not able to renew applications.”


Information from: (Anchorage) Alaska Journal of Commerce, http://www.alaskajournal.com

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