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Medicaid Enrollment Jumps 3 Million Medicaid Enrollment Jumps 3 Million

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Medicaid Enrollment Jumps 3 Million

Participation in the federal program as of February is higher than pre-Obamacare totals, but we still don't know what portion are newly eligible under the health law.

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(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Three million additional people have enrolled in Medicaid coverage as of the end of February, compared with pre-Obamacare figures, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Friday.

The report finds that as of the end of the fifth month of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, 3 million more people are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP programs, compared with the average total enrolled between July and September of last year. The data is from the 46 states reporting their enrollment in February and before October, and does not include March.

 

Medicaid enrollment has increased by approximately 633,170 between January and February of this year.

As of the last day in February, about 62.3 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP in the 48 states reporting enrollment information—more than 20 percent of the U.S. population.

The White House announced earlier this week that 7.1 million Americans have enrolled in private coverage through the insurance exchanges. An additional 3 million young adults were covered under their parents' insurance, according to the administration.

 

The health law calls for an expansion of Medicaid to all adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. However, a 2012 Supreme Court ruling made that optional for the states; currently 26 states plus the District of Columbia are expanding Medicaid, 19 are not, and five remain undecided.

The decision to expand Medicaid has had a dramatic impact on the number of individuals enrolled in the federal program over the past five months. According to the CMS report, in states that are participating in expansion—and where expansion was already in effect in February—enrollment increased by 8.3 percent compared with the months prior to ACA open enrollment beginning Oct 1. States that have not expanded Medicaid coverage reported a 1.6 percent increase.

The enrollment numbers are different from Medicaid eligibility determinations in that they include those who left as well as entered the Medicaid program, and they do not include those who are simply renewing coverage.

CMS says that 11.7 million people have been determined eligible for Medicaid and CHIP between Oct. 2013 and Feb. 2014, but this total includes anyone who has applied for coverage in that period and been deemed within the requirements.

 

However, a few questions remain. CMS has not previously asked states to report this information, so comparative data on how much enrollment fluctuated prior to the ACA are not available. And we still do not know how many of those enrolled in Medicaid coverage are newly eligible under the health care law.

These numbers will continue to grow; Medicaid enrollment is not part of the designated open enrollment period, but is available year-round.

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