AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)
People who depend on Medicaid were able to keep their coverage during the pandemic. But those allowances are expiring. That means it is time to reapply. On this edition of The Means Report, we hear from one of Georgia’s leading experts on Medicaid. Watch our interview and learn how to navigate the system and fill out the paperwork. Be sure to join us every Monday afternoon at 12:30 for The Means Report.
Hello everybody and welcome once again to “The Means Report”. We certainly appreciate you spending part of your day with us. Where today we are going to tackle two topics that have dominated the headlines of late. First of all, Medicaid. I know a lot of you all may have heard that certain pandemic components of Medicaid are going away, and it’s true they are. So how do you keep your coverage? How do you reapply? How do you make sure that you’re still on that list and you’re still getting some help when you have to go to the doctor? Also today we’re gonna talk about all things cyber, the lessons that are being taught to today’s students, the jobs that are out there, and some advice for you right there at home or at the office when it comes to protecting your personal information and your data when you’re on your devices. And of course, we’re always gonna wrap up “The Means Report” with ways that you can stay in touch. It is easy to do so and we’ll do that at the end of this broadcast. But first, let’s welcome Dr. April Hartman to the set of “The Means Report”. Dr. Hartman is gonna talk to us about Medicaid. A huge topic these days as I mentioned. Dr. Hartman is the division chief of the MCG Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine and now they’ve thrown all these extra duties on you by way of your role as chair of the Medicaid Task Force for Georgia’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. How are you?
I’m doing great and very grateful to be able to come here and share this information with you.
Well, it’s important. Are people just kind of going nuts out there right now scared they’re gonna lose their Medicaid?
Yes, and you know, it is very real, but there’s things that can be done to prevent that.
Am I overstating it when I say that Medicaid coverage could expire for some people? They could go uncovered?
They estimate that around 500,000 people in Georgia may lose their coverage and 300,000 in South Carolina may lose coverage.
All right, so just so the audience understands, this is coverage that was granted during the pandemic so that everybody would have covered and it would be one less thing to worry about during those times that our world faced. And now since the World Health Organization and the president have declared an end to the Coronavirus emergency, we’re seeing it go away.
There was a period of what was called continuous enrollment where you didn’t have to submit your tax return or other things to show that you were still eligible. You just automatically were continued.
Okay, so how do people know that they may be in jeopardy of losing their coverage? Maybe they didn’t know they had continuous coverage during the pandemic. Is somebody gonna call or send a letter?
So as of April 15th, the first batch of letters went out. And so right now the most important thing that people can do is make sure that they have the correct address and everything in the system. And we can share that website with you for updating.
What about the situation with reapplication or redetermination, however you wanna put it. Does it impact every single person who has Medicaid or just the continuous coverage folks?
So everyone that has Medicaid was part of that continuous coverage. And so in order for everybody not to become ineligible at the same time, what the federal government has done is they have allowed Medicaid 14 months to go through this process. So they’re taking this in batches. They’re not gonna re-certify everyone at the same time. The way you can find out if it’s your time is you’ll get a letter or you can go on the gateway.ga.gov website and see what your recertification date is. Once you get that date, you have 45 days to either call, you can go to the local office, you can go to the library. There’s a number of ways that you can renew your coverage. And then once you renew, then you’re set for another year.
Dr. Hartman, are you in touch with people at the state or federal level so that y’all are all on the same page? Are y’all constantly meeting and talking about how to execute all of this?
We meet monthly, sometimes more than monthly to talk about this because we really wanted to make it as easy as possible. So like instead of requiring everyone to come up with all the information, we get what we can from the Department of Labor. We’re updating addresses from the post office, like anything that we can get to help make this easier, we’ve done that.
How do I know that my letter that I received is legit? I’m one of those folks who is always wondering if someone’s trying to steal my personal information. And we’ll talk about that in our next segment about cyber. How do you know the Medicaid letters are legit?
The letter is just a form letter. It’s gonna, it’s not like a pre-filled out something that you have to sign. That’s not what you’re getting. It’s just you’re getting a letter saying to call, go online, or if you wanna request a paper copy, you can and they’ll send it. But it’s just a way to say “hey, your time is now, you need to renew in the next 45 days”.
So you mentioned it’s not pre-filled. Can we get help with these documents if we don’t know how to fill them out? Who can hold our hand?
So they have people at the library. Some of the libraries even have kiosks where you can fill it out. You have to call and see if the library nearest you has that. There’s also different services, like at the Augusta Hub for innovation, the AU Literacy Center has office hours where they’re willing to help people go online and navigate the system and help them fill this out if they need help with that or they don’t have a computer at home or something.
All right. Thank you for clarifying that. What is Medicaid? I think of Medicaid and I think of coverage for everyone potentially versus Medicare which is older folks. Can you help be a little more specific?
When the family doesn’t make enough money to pay for insurance premiums or other things, they can qualify for Medicaid, which will cover their health insurance costs. They can also get Medicaid. Medicare starts at 64, so there’s this sometimes a gap in insurance coverage.
How long does Medicaid coverage last as far as having to continue to prove that you’re eligible? Is it an annual thing?
It’s usually an annual re-approval.
All right, I think we’re pretty clear on the Medicaid stuff. Do you feel like we covered everything with that?
So let’s move on in just the last couple of minutes we have together and talk about general adolescent healthcare issues. How are our kids doing? You see them every single day at the Children’s Hospital. Are our kids healthy and happy overall?
I think what we’ve seen, and I’m sure there’s been a talk on many different news stations about the mental health crisis, right? And as a general pediatrician, I see everybody who comes in, and this crisis is real. We have kids that have become disconnected because they were isolated during COVID and we need to find ways to get them back connected because we’re seeing a lot more depression, anxiety, they’ve lost people, people have died. And so a lot of kids are experiencing grief and trying to just struggle and figure out where do I fit in? Who’s my friends? Who’s my support? And so now it’s the time that we need to come together as a community and just really find some kid and be like hey, you need help with something, what do you need? How can I help you?
What age group are you talking about?
All ages. And sometimes the parents need just as much help as the kids. I mean I think this is just a time of struggle for people and it’s really difficult. I think the amount of loss, fear from violence, gun violence and everything, I have kids that are afraid to go to school that we are dealing with that anxiety. And what do you do in those situations?
I was stunned when I was talking to both of my sons, they’re both in college now, and they said one of our biggest fears throughout high school was an active shooter. I said “you’re kidding”. And they said “no, we had drills all the time. What do you think we were supposed to think? We saw it on the news”. And so the fear and as you mentioned, the struggle is real. So what do we do as grownups? Kind of just wrap our arms around them and say we love you, we support you, and try to ease them back into a place of comfort?
All these things fall into a category of what we call adverse childhood experiences. Some people just say trauma, but what we found in studies that have been done is if even one person, if they have one supportive adult that they know cares for them no matter what, that can mitigate the long-term effects of that, which long-term effects can be chronic diseases, substance abuse, all these things. And all it takes is one person that they feel loves and trusts them no matter what. And that makes all the difference in the world.
I’ll tell you what, you saved your most powerful stuff for last, Dr. Hartman. I appreciate it so much and I hope that message is received by our audience and I hope that we can care for our young people in the right way. And the Medicaid information is invaluable as well. So thanks for what you and your team do at MCG at AU, at the Children’s Hospital. We’re grateful to you.
Thanks for having me.
Absolutely. Dr. April Hartman. When we come back, we’re gonna talk about some cyber issues and how you can keep your data safe when you’re online, don’t fall for the scams that are out there, when we come back.
Man it’s lonely, going through life lonely.
There is the therapeutic aspect of music.