Kentucky first state with automatic Medicaid renewal for children

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky has received federal approval to automatically renew coverage for children in Medicaid or the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program for 12 months.

“Kentucky is the first state in the country to implement this kind of flexibility,” Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said in making the announcement Thursday. “It went into effect on Oct. 1, and remains effective through the end of Kentucky’s unwinding period, which is April of 2024.”

The “unwinding” is the gradual resumption of annual Medicaid renewals now that the pandemic rules that allowed for continuous enrollment have ended. The first renewals began in April.

Brice Mitchell, spokesman for the state Department for Public Health, explained in a Nov. 14 email how Kentucky handled this change: “The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 requires all states to implement continuous coverage for children effective Jan. 1, 2024. Kentucky decided to implement it in April 2023 as part of the restart of renewals. However, the child still had to go through a renewal first, and was granted continuous coverage if determined eligible. With the new flexibility in place, we are able to automatically extend children’s coverage for 12 months without them needing to go through the renewal process.”

In other words, Kentucky started continuous coverage three months before all states must do so, and before any other state, according to Coleman.

She said this new flexibility means that more than 600,000 Kentucky children on Medicaid and KCHIP will get streamlined access to the extended coverage. She said it also frees up resources for the state to concentrate on contacting adults who will again be subject to the more rigorous process of applying for Medicaid.

A state news release says the only way a child can be disenrolled during the 12-month continuous coverage period is if the child turns 19, a parent or guardian requests disenrollment, or the child moves out of state.

Coleman also reminded Kentuckians that they have until Jan. 16 to shop and enroll for health and dental coverage on the state-based marketplace, Kynect. To see plan options, visit or call 855-459-6328.

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