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Medicaid enrollment rises by 3 million under health law

WASHINGTON — More than 3 million Americans have enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program since October, according to data released Friday, providing the first enrollment snapshot of the government-run programs for low-income people since the health insurance marketplaces opened.

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.

White House officials pointed to the data as growing evidence that more people are gaining coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act. This week, the White House announced that 7.1 million people signed up for private health plans as of March 31 on the marketplaces, marking a turnaround from the troubled beginnings of enrollment last fall.

The health law expanded Medicaid to include all legal residents with incomes less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level or individuals making less than about $15,800 a year or a family of four earning less than $32,499 in 2013 dollars. That includes childless adults, who were excluded in most states.

But after U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that states could not be compelled to expand their programs, many states refused to participate. In 24 states and the District of Columbia, millions of low-income adults became newly eligible for Medicaid as of January 2014. On April 1, Michigan expanded its Medicaid program under the law, and New Hampshire will expand starting in July.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted in a blog post Friday that states that have expanded Medicaid had a "much more dramatic increase" in enrollment than states that have not. Medicaid enrollment in the expansion states grew 8.3 percent since September, five times more than nonexpansion states, which had a 1.6 percent increase during the same period, she said. In the states that did not expand Medicaid, Florida had the biggest increase — 8.2 percent. Montana ranked second — a 6.9 percent increase — and Idaho third, with a 6.6 percent jump. "The increase in Medicaid enrollments across the country is encouraging, but more work is left to do to ensure that the millions of uninsured Americans eligible for these programs gain coverage," Sebelius said.

Medicaid enrollment rises by 3 million under health law 04/04/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 4, 2014 11:04pm]
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