Photo by Semevent from Pixabay

More than 200 Kentucky children have been affected by a computer glitch jeopardizing their Medicaid coverage.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says that because of a computer error, 229 children were given Medicaid eligibility without their parental income being considered.

For these children in Aged, Blind, or Disabled Medicaid, the computer “didn’t count parent income, which is a condition of eligibility,” according to a statement from the Cabinet.

“When we re-ran eligibility, some did not qualify because they were over the income limit or did not have documentation of a qualifying disability in our system,” the statement says. “However, some of these children still qualified based on regular eligibility requirements. Termination or change notices were sent to families.”

Although some parents were notified that benefits would be ending as of May 1, the Cabinet says that benefits actually are being continued until the end of May and that families are being provided information on next steps, such as how to re-apply for benefits.

“We are working with families to have assessments done to update levels of care to ensure those who qualify receive the right Medicaid eligibility,” the Cabinet’s statement says.

How the computer glitch occurred is still being researched, but the problem has been corrected in the system, according to the Cabinet.

Mike Duncan of Henderson, Ky., and his son, Tanner, who has Crohn’s Disease | Courtesy the Duncans

Mike Duncan, a Henderson, Ky., father, said his family received a call this week saying that Medicaid coverage for his 6-year-old son, Tanner, was being cut off. They also were sent a letter explaining that the benefits were being terminated “because your total monthly income is more than the gross income limit for your household size.”

The family already has a primary insurer, Anthem, to pick up much of the medical bills for Tanner, who has Crohn’s Disease, a chronic form of inflammatory bowel disease. But Medicaid has saved Mike Duncan and his wife, who are both teachers, more than $1,200 a year in medical costs in the past and enabled them to do more as a family, he said.

So the recent turn of events is “just a little upsetting,” said Duncan, who noted that his son has had Medicaid since 2017.

“The people that work for the state said, ‘Yeah, you can get a medical card based on disability — doesn’t matter your income’ … That’s why we applied and then they gave it to us, and now they’re saying: ‘No, we were wrong. It was a computer glitch.'”

The Duncans will try to get Tanner’s benefits restored by applying for a waiver that it was previously rejected for, Duncan said. But, “honestly, I’m not very hopeful that it will be approved after being denied once.”

Duncan, who teaches elementary physical education, noted that having a sick child brings with it many extra costs, such as supplements and vitamins, medications not approved by insurance, special cleaning supplies, and days off work for appointments for his son, who undergoes regular infusions of a biologic drug.

“I was working two jobs just a couple months ago,” he said. “It’s just been a lot,” but “we’re going to be OK.”

This story has been updated to correct the Duncan family’s primary insurance carrier, which is Anthem.