Maine DHHS reaching out to Maine people to keep them covered

February 13, 2024

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is prioritizing a comprehensive outreach effort to ensure MaineCare (Medicaid) members know they need to connect with the Department to continue their coverage.

As part of the resumption of eligibility reviews after the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, known as “unwinding,” the Department is reviewing the eligibility of all MaineCare members. DHHS outreach is focused on make sure members know the steps to take to avoid unnecessarily losing coverage. Efforts include:

  • A public information marketing campaign with nearly 12 million digital impressions and over 4 million streaming audio impressions
  • A comprehensive outreach model from the Office for Family Independence (OFI) using multiple modes of contact before and during the renewal period for each household
  • A partner communications toolkit available in 9 languages to facilitate outreach
  • Outreach from, Maine’s Health Insurance Marketplace, to members found to be ineligible for MaineCare during the renewal process, including a series of 3 mailers to more than 13,000 households, and outbound calls to more than 9,000 contacts.
  • Partnerships with state agencies and other organizations with reach into populations with MaineCare to communicate with people where they are with information about the unwinding

OFI also has been implementing changes to improve call center performance, to ensure that members can access assistance with their MaineCare renewals. To further support MaineCare enrollment, as well as enrollment in other state programs, the Department has requested 29 additional positions for OFI in the Governor’s forthcoming supplemental budget proposal.

Since the outset of the unwinding process, DHHS has anticipated that disparities in renewal rates may emerge and partnered with Community-Based Organizations, via federal disparity grant funding, to outreach underserved and hard-to-reach populations. Activities conducted through these grants include:

  • Creation of targeted flyers and digital materials to reach specific constituencies
  • Hosting community education and mobile outreach events, such as monthly events at Portland Public Library, outreach to shelter guests about how to maintain their MaineCare coverage, and multi-lingual outreach to farmworkers
  • Distribution of materials at local food pantries, and through home visits by case workers, recovery coaches, and more
  • Tabling and enrollment assistance at community events

Relative to the experiences of other states, Maine has not seen the same level of disenrollment through unwinding​. New analysis of unwinding data builds on the monthly dashboard updates, available here, by examining patterns and trends to guide future outreach and prevent disenrollments that could lead to coverage disparities across the state.

The DHHS analysis focused on two primary outcomes of redeterminations:

  1. Pending/Overdue Renewals: This outcome captures a redetermination that may or may not have been returned and has not yet been processed by staff.
  2. Failure to Verify Closures: This outcome captures an eligibility determination that leads to a closure, or ending of coverage. This outcome derives from a request to the individual for information that was not returned after a first pass on the redetermination by an eligibility specialist.

Our analysis found slight disparities throughout unwinding in the frequency of Pending/Overdue renewals by:

  • County
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Primary Language

More details on this data analysis are available in this presentation (PDF).

While the disparities observed to date are slight, the Department is using these insights to inform our outreach efforts, including our public information campaign, and we encourage partners working in their communities to continue to educate underserved populations about the need to renew their MaineCare coverage. DHHS will also continue to monitor outcomes throughout unwinding to minimize disparities in coverage.

MaineCare members who have not yet gone through the eligibility review process should take two important steps to stay covered:

  • Update their current contact information with MaineCare, including address, email and phone number. Members can call 1–855–797–4357 and press option 1 to update contact information through an automated system or visit Stay Connected to Stay Covered!
  • Be on the lookout for an envelope with a blue block on it, which contains the MaineCare renewal notice: If it’s blue, it’s time to renew! Members who signed up for e-noticing on My Maine Connection will receive their notice electronically and will not receive the envelope. Whether a member receives their renewal form by mail or e-notice, they will need to complete and return it by the deadline. Members who are determined to be eligible through the passive renewal process will receive a notice that their coverage has been renewed for 12 months and will not be required to fill out a renewal form.