Up to 15 million Americans, including 6 million kids, are at risk of losing Medicaid coverage once the public health emergency ends. State and federal officials are scrambling to prepare.
Each morning when Christina Preston enters the West Community Opportunity Center that serves Ohio’s Franklin County, she knows she and her staff are going to be flooded with calls and applications from people in desperate need of help.
Their despair could become even more acute next month as the national public health emergency comes to an end. That could lead to millions of people losing access to Medicaid and other benefits.
“We’re planning for it as best we can, but the way we’re looking at it right now is triage,” said Preston, director of the local jobs and family services branch in Columbus, Ohio. “I don’t even really want to imagine it right now. It’s going to be huge.”
Across the country, local agencies like Preston’s are preparing for the unraveling of the expanded social safety net created in response to the pandemic — and, most significantly, the end of continuous Medicaid coverage, which expires Jan. 15, at the end of the public health emergency, unless extended by the Biden administration.