Medicaid Enrollment Surges

More than 6 million declared eligible, but we don’t know how many are new enrollees.

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 16: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building is shown August 16, 2006 in Washington, DC. The HHS Building, also known as the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, is located at the foot of Capitol Hill and is named for Humphrey, who served as a U.S. senator from Minnesota and Vice President of the United States. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Sam Baker
Jan. 23, 2014, 8:55 a.m.

More than 6.3 mil­lion people have been deemed eli­gible for Medi­caid and the Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Plan since Oc­to­ber, the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment said Wed­nes­day.

Ex­actly what that num­ber means, though, is hard to de­term­ine. The fig­ure does not in­clude people who were deemed eli­gible through the 36 fed­er­ally run mar­ket­places, so the real num­ber is prob­ably high­er. But 6.3 mil­lion does in­clude some people who simply re­newed their Medi­caid cov­er­age, rather than gain­ing cov­er­age for the first time un­der Obama­care.

Either way, Medi­caid eli­gib­il­ity is far out­pa­cing the health care law’s in­sur­ance ex­changes, which of­fer private cov­er­age, of­ten with fin­an­cial help from a new tax sub­sidy. The ex­changes have en­rolled roughly 2.2 mil­lion people since Oc­to­ber, when en­roll­ment began.

Slightly more than half of Decem­ber’s Medi­caid de­term­in­a­tions came from states that are par­ti­cip­at­ing in the pro­gram’s ex­pan­sion un­der Obama­care, ac­cord­ing to HHS. The law ex­pan­ded Medi­caid eli­gib­il­ity to cov­er people with in­comes up to 133 per­cent of the fed­er­al poverty line, but the Su­preme Court said in 2012 that states must be able to opt out of the ex­pan­sion.

Twenty-five states and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. have ac­cep­ted the Medi­caid ex­pan­sion so far. It is ini­tially fun­ded en­tirely by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.


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