Short Takes On News & Events

Medicaid Enrollment Surges By More Than 1 Million In April

By Phil Galewitz

June 4th, 2014, 2:28 PM

Medicaid enrollment surged by more than 1 million people in April, bringing the total growth in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor since September to about 6 million, the Obama administration said Wednesday.

The increase is significant because it shows Medicaid enrollment continued to grow even after the new state and federal online insurance exchanges closed their open enrollment period for private insurance at the end of March. Advocates say the increase also shows states are making headway reducing the backlog of Medicaid applications that built up because of communications problems between and states and other state technological issues.

Overall, Medicaid enrollment in 47 states and the District of Columbia topped 65 million in April, compared to 59 million in September for those same states, according to the report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Connecticut, Maine and North Dakota did not report their Medicaid enrollments.

States that expanded eligibility under the Affordable Care Act to cover residents with incomes up to 138 percent of federal poverty level (about $16,100 for an individual) saw Medicaid enrollments grow by an average of 15.3 percent. States that did not expand reported a 3.3 percent increase.

“This is good news,” said Rachel Klein, director of organizational strategy & enrollment at Families USA, a consumer advocacy group. “This increase reflects the ongoing outreach effort in states … and that states are still processing applications they received earlier.”

Twenty-six states have expanded Medicaid, although New Hampshire is not scheduled to implement it until July. Michigan’s expansion began April 1 — and it has added more than 270,000 people to the program since then, according to state figures.

Medicaid rolls in West Virginia, Oregon and Nevada, all of which expanded eligibility, increased at the fastest pace — all had more than 40 percent growth since September, the CMS report said

Even some states that did not expand saw a surge of enrollees as thousands of people who were previously eligible but not enrolled signed up.  Enrollment in South Carolina grew by more than 14 percent as the state made concerted effort to find those who were previously eligible. Florida, Georgia and Kansas — whose Republican leaders have been hostile to the health law — saw Medicaid grow by about 7 percent since September.

Medicaid enrollment dropped in four states since September — Alabama, Missouri, Nebraska and Wyoming. None expanded eligibility.

While the open enrollment period has ended for buying private insurance through the federal or state marketplaces, consumers may apply for Medicaid and CHIP coverage year round.

One Response to “Medicaid Enrollment Surges By More Than 1 Million In April”

  1. Jackson says:

    “While the open enrollment period has ended for buying private insurance through the federal or state marketplaces, consumers may apply for Medicaid and CHIP coverage year round.”

    Not in Pennsylvania! Governor Tom Corbett has refused the Medicaid expansion for Pennsylvania because, apparently, tea party Republicans in Pennsylvania are perfectly satisfied having poor people without health insurance. Medicaid Expansion would have reduced the ranks of Pennsylvania’s uninsured by about 600,000 people. However, there’s hope! Polls show Gov. Tom Corbett trailing his Democratic challenger, Tom Wolf, by at least 20 points. If elected in November of 2014, Tom Wolf will expand Medicaid and provide relief for Pennsylvania’s hospitals. Pennsylvania’s hospitals currently provide uncompensated care for the insured. Medicaid expansion would guarantee that more people using emergency rooms would be insured. As long as Corbett is Governor, hospitals will never see Medicaid expansion and they will continue to slowly go broke as a result. Thank goodness that hospitals are getting behind the 2014 campaign to elect Tom Wolf as Governor of Pennsylvania. By ignoring the heartfelt pleas from the hospital associations all across Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett has chosen to be a one-term Governor. One fact that Corbett still doesn’t get is that the tea party is done. The tea party is toast. Since 2010, the tea party has been on the decline. In Congress, tea party leader, Michelle Bachman, has decided not to seek reelection. The tea party suffered a huge blow when Obama won a second term in 2012. Tom Corbett still thinks his tea party base has the votes that will get him reelected. Sadly, Tom Corbett is a man in denial. Tom Wolf will be our next governor, hands down!