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Sebelius: Medicaid, CHIP enrollment grows by more than 3 million

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Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced that according to a new CMS report released yesterday, 3 million additional individuals enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP through the end of February 2014 compared to enrollment before the Health Insurance Marketplace opened on October 1, 2013.

As of Feb. 28, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment has grown to 61 million in 46 states that reported the data, 3 million higher than enrollment was, on average, from July to September, the data show. Administration officials had previously provided numbers only for those determined eligible for the programs.

That is in addition to the 7.1 million people that have signed onto the Affordable Care Act. These enrollments for “quality, affordable, private health insurance options” were on the Health Insurance Marketplace, HealthCare.Gov, from Oct. 1, 2103 through March 31, 2014.

Sebelius posted on her blog on the HHS.gov website, pointed out that "Enrollment in states that adopted the Medicaid coverage expansion increased five-fold compared to states that are not expanding Medicaid."

The numbers quoted do not include the month of March, but Sebelius said "We expect enrollment in March to be even higher, although individuals can continue to enroll in Medicaid all year round. Eligibility determinations also continued to grow: between October 2013 and February 2014, 11.7 million people were determined eligible for Medicaid and CHIP by State agencies, up from 8.9 million reported last month for the October – January period."

The so-called "Medicaid expansion" of the Affordable Care Act provides states with new opportunities to expand their Medicaid programs to increase access to affordable coverage.

In states that expand coverage, most individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($15,521 for an individual and $31,721 for a family of four) will be eligible for Medicaid coverage. To date, 26 states and DC have expanded their Medicaid programs.

Republican governors, with the exception of Virginia that recently elected a Democratic governor, control the remaining states that have not enrolled.

This announcement coincides with a study released by The Urban Institute's Health Reform Monitoring Survey (HRMS).

HRMS that shows the uninsurance rate for nonelderly adults (age 18–64) was 15.2 percent for the nation, a drop of 2.7 percent since September 2013, the month before ACA open enrollment began.

This represents a whopping gain in coverage for about 5.4 million adults.

States that have expanded Medicaid saw a much more dramatic increase in Medicaid enrollment than States that have not. According to the report, among states that adopted the Medicaid coverage expansion and whose expansions were in effect in February, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment rose by 8.3 percent compared to the months prior to Marketplace open enrollment period. States that have not expanded Medicaid coverage reported an increase in Medicaid enrollment of 1.6 percent over the same period.

There's no deadline for states to expand. Sebelius explained, "Expanding coverage reduces hospitals' uncompensated care, lowers 'cost shifting' to businesses that see higher health insurance premiums as some of the costs of caring for the uninsured are passed on to them, and strengthens local economies."

The increase in Medicaid enrollments across the country is encouraging, said Sebelius, but more work is left to do to ensure that the millions of uninsured Americans eligible for these programs gain coverage.

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Sources:

HHS.com - Medicaid enrollment grows by more than 3 million

Washington Post - Medicaid, CHIP enrollment grows by more than 3 million, CMS data shows

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