‘Stay Connected to Stay Covered’ campaign urges MaineCare members to update their contact information to preserve coverage
AUGUSTA— The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is launching a new public service campaign this week to promote continued health insurance coverage with regular Medicaid (MaineCare) eligibility and enrollment operations set to resume in April, as required by federal law.
The “Stay Connected to Stay Covered” campaign urges MaineCare members to update their contact information so the Department can reach them about renewing their coverage and to be on the lookout for their renewal form, which must be filled out and returned to avoid a gap in coverage. The campaign includes a communications toolkit (PDF) available for partners to download and a paid advertising campaign, which includes radio advertising, a social media campaign, and digital advertising.
“It’s important that MaineCare members make sure their contact information is up to date so we can reach them with critical, timely information,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “We want to prevent Maine residents who are eligible for MaineCare from losing their family’s coverage and ensure those who aren’t know about their affordable coverage options.”
In March 2020, the federal government temporarily suspended certain Medicaid requirements to help prevent people from losing their health coverage during the pandemic, even if their circumstances changed during that period. This is known as the “continuous coverage requirement.” People who would otherwise lose eligibility due to increased earnings, change of family status, or other reasons have remained covered by Medicaid for needed care during the pandemic.
Until recently, the end date for the continuous coverage requirement was tied to the end of the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE). In December 2022, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which separates the continuous coverage requirement from the COVID-19 PHE and sets a fixed end date of March 31, 2023.
This federal law requires all states, including Maine, to check who is still eligible to receive Medicaid coverage. Regular MaineCare redeterminations will resume in April. This will be the first time some of Maine’s MaineCare members will be required to go through this “redetermination” process, which was routine prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. All members must complete a renewal to see if they are still eligible and all states must disenroll individuals no longer eligible for coverage. The federal government calls this process the “unwinding” of the continuous coverage requirement.
States will have 12 months to initiate redeterminations for all enrolled members and 14 months to complete them.
The Department projects that approximately 420,000 Mainers will be enrolled in MaineCare by April 2023. With assistance from experts from the national State Health Access Data Assistance Center, the Department estimates that 65,000 to 90,000 members may lose their MaineCare coverage by the end of the redetermination process because they are no longer eligible or did not complete the renewal process. However, national estimates for Maine indicate that 90 percent of these individuals have or will be able to receive other coverage through sources like CoverME.gov or employer-based insurance. These numbers are estimates and will likely change over time based on many factors, including the broader economic landscape.
What MaineCare members can do NOW:
- Visit MyMaineConnection.gov to set up an account and update your contact information, so MaineCare can reach you when it’s time for you to renew your coverage.
- Alternatively, members can call 1-855-797-4357 and select 1 to update their contact information via phone, without having to wait for a specialist.
When it’s time for renewal:
- Be on the lookout for an envelope with a blue block. This will be the MaineCare renewal form that members need to complete and return: If it's blue, it's time to renew!
- Members who have opted to receive electronic noticing on My Maine Connection will not receive an envelope with a blue block. They will receive a text or email alert to visit www.MyMaineConnection.gov when it is time for them to renew.
- Members can also update eligibility information on My Maine Connection – this may be a quicker and easier way for many members to complete renewal.
For most MaineCare members, DHHS will restart renewals over a 12-month timeframe based on the member’s regular annual renewal timeline. For example, if the household was originally due for renewal in July 2021, the household renewal will be due in July 2023. Generally, if a household with a July renewal does not return the renewal by July 31, 2023, MaineCare will close their coverage effective August 30, 2023.
DHHS is working to minimize the number of people who lose their coverage during the unwinding process by partnering with organizations and stakeholders in communities across the state to let people with MaineCare know that changes are coming and what they need to do to stay covered. The Department will send mail, text message and email reminders to all members regarding the need to complete renewals and has contracted with more than a dozen Community-Based Organizations across the state to spread the word. Messaging includes references to the unique appearance of the special renewal envelopes which will feature a distinctive blue block.
In the summer of 2022, DHHS launched an updated and improved version of its online application portal, called My Maine Connection (MyMaineConnection.gov). On this site, members can update their contact information, check their renewal date, and complete a prepopulated renewal.
Additionally, individuals found ineligible for MaineCare during their renewal process because of income or other reasons will have their account transferred automatically to CoverME.gov, Maine’s state-based Health Insurance Marketplace. These consumers will receive formal notices about the referral from both the DHHS Office for Family Independence and CoverME.gov. CoverME.gov will also conduct targeted outreach to those consumers via postal mail, email, and phone and plans to offer an extended 90-day Special Enrollment Period for consumers losing MaineCare. Additional federal financial assistance has been extended through 2025, meaning most consumers will qualify for help paying for premiums for plans at CoverME.gov.
The Department will provide updated MaineCare enrollment data on a quarterly basis.
More information, including the toolkit and FAQs, is available at mainecare.gov/unwinding.