Blog Posts > New Brief Highlights How Simplifying Medicaid Processes Can Increase Efficiency and Improve the User Experience
May 25, 2022

New Brief Highlights How Simplifying Medicaid Processes Can Increase Efficiency and Improve the User Experience

For Immediate Release: May 25, 2022

Contact: Renee Alves, 559-916-5939

Charleston, WV – Medicaid is a critical economic and health program in West Virginia, serving over 616,000 people, including children, seniors, low-income adults, pregnant and postpartum women, persons with disabilities, and more. Medicaid’s flexibility and reach has never been more clear than during the pandemic recession, when it provided health coverage for tens of thousands of West Virginians who lost other health coverage. Nevertheless, Medicaid and those who rely on it are often faced with stigmatizing language, mountains of bureaucratic hurdles, and harmful policy proposals. 

Over the last year and a half, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (WVCBP) has worked in partnership with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVAHC) on a listening project to identify ways to enhance the Medicaid experience for West Virginians. Over the course of this project, our team has learned more about the Medicaid process through the experiences of those who utilize and administer the program, including state officials and legislators, health care providers and advocates, and — most importantly — Medicaid enrollees and people who are eligible but not enrolled in the program.

Our new issue brief highlights several patterns identified through our correspondence with Medicaid stakeholders and people with lived Medicaid experience that are critical to understanding the role of Medicaid in the Mountain State, and how it can better serve enrollees. While the project is ongoing, our preliminary findings and recommendations can help stakeholders and policymakers craft policy priorities that can critically improve Medicaid’s efficacy and health outcomes in West Virginia. This brief was authored by WVCBP health and safety net policy analyst, Rhonda Rogombe.

Key Findings:

  • While Medicaid covers over one-third of West Virginia residents and has wide-ranging positive impacts on our state’s economy, stigmatization of the program and its recipients remains prevalent. 
  • Overall, the largest barriers to accessing Medicaid indicated by respondents were lack of internet access and difficulty reaching Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) staff by phone. 
  • West Virginia is one of just four states in which a Medicaid application cannot be fully completed online in a single setting.
  • West Virginia is one of just nine states that fails to offer telephonic signatures for renewal applications, thus increasing paperwork for Medicaid recipients and DHHR staff because renewals cannot be fully completed over the phone. 
  • Streamlining of Medicaid enrollment and renewal processes can save time and reduce workload for DHHR staff, particularly as the COVID-19 public health emergency ends and increases administrative workload. 

Recommendations to Improve Efficiency of Medicaid Program:

  • Maximize ex parte renewals.
  • Implement improvements to the online portal.
  • Utilize telephonic signatures.

“Beyond streamlining and simplifying the enrollment and renewal processes in order to improve the Medicaid experience for consumers, these recommendations would also reduce the administrative workload for DHHR staff,” says Rogombe. “This is particularly important as the COVID-19 public health emergency is expected to end in the coming months, increasing the administrative workload on the DHHR staff members that work on Medicaid by requiring full renewals of all Medicaid recipients. Together, these recommendations can improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the Medicaid program to the benefit of both consumers and staff.”

You can read the full issue brief here.

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