DHSS requests additional 2024 funding to prepare for end of federal public health emergency
Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services outlined its preliminary 2024 budget request earlier this month, with preparations for the end of the federal public health emergency shaping many proposed budget items.
That transition away from the COVID-19-era emergency could have serious ramifications for Delawareans relying on public assistance programs; the emergency declaration brought with it expanded Medicaid access and requirements that states offer continuous coverage to anyone who enrolled in Medicaid before March 2020.
It also gave state agencies responsible for public health and social services greater flexibility in administering food benefits and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs.
But Delaware DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik told Delaware Office of Management and Budget leadership in a 2024 budget hearing earlier this month that her agency is preparing for the end of the federal public health emergency in the coming year.
“When the federal public health emergency does end, in many ways the work is only beginning," she said. "DHSS will have a significant undertaking to both educate the public about the changing benefit landscape and enact the requirements of what the feds are calling ‘the great unwinding.’”
That will mean disenrolling thousands of Delawareans from Medicaid – a daunting process that will require additional financial support from the state according to Magarik.
Magarik says that recent federal subsidies have made health insurance options plentiful and affordable enough that they may be able to help move some people from Medicaid to the insurance marketplace.
The 2024 budget door-opener presented this month includes nearly $70 million for one-time Medicaid costs stemming from the end of the federal public health emergency.