Zero to Six Continuous Coverage Proposed in Pennsylvania, Approved in New Mexico

As we hit the milestone of 3 million children losing Medicaid coverage in less than a year, movement toward multi-year eligibility in Medicaid continues to be a bright spot in the unwinding storm. Last week CMS approved New Mexico’s request to implement continuous coverage for children up to age 6, joining Oregon and Washington in our list of states implementing the change. And earlier this month Pennsylvania proposed 0-6 continuous coverage as part of its draft 1115 waiver application currently up for public comment. For those Say Ahhh! readers counting, we’re now at 11 states actively moving toward adoption of multi-year continuous eligibility for young children.

Now more states may opt to take a closer look since CMS highlighted multi-year continuous coverage as a state tool to address children’s coverage losses in its Informational Bulletin released Monday.

(As an aside for our maternal and early childhood partners, also worth noting from the bulletin: A reminder on page 9 about state requirements for enrollment of “deemed newborns.” Given the challenges highlighted by my colleague Andy Schneider earlier this year, it provides a well-timed CMS refresher for states.)

In her blog post, Tricia Brooks also detailed an opportunity for states to combine multi-year coverage with a Section (e)(14) option to push renewals out 12 months. This would effectively keep the young children (in most states 0-6) covered without interruption until kindergarten. With its pending 1115 for 0-6 coverage in Medicaid, North Carolina may have this opportunity once their waiver is approved. Now that 0-6 coverage is approved in New Mexico, the state could take advantage of the Section (e)(14) option to keep young children’s coverage steady.

We look ahead with hope that more states will push forward to keep children from losing health coverage in 2024.

Elisabeth Wright Burak is a Senior Fellow at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families.