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Medicaid Adds Another Million Enrollees in May

Enrollment may be closed in the Affordable Care Act's private insurance marketplaces, but Medicaid continues adding patients.

 While enrollment in private health insurance through online marketplaces may be closed until Nov. 15, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program added almost a million new patients in May, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Between April and May 928,628 people signed up for Medicaid or CHIP across the 48 states that reported data, up from 805,038 who joined in April but down from the 1.4 million who joined in March. The May figures, released Friday, bring total enrollment to nearly 66 million. 

Medicaid is jointly funded by states and the federal government to serve low-income children, parents, the elderly and disabled people. The program was expanded through the Affordable Care Act to childless adults earning up to about $15,856 for a single household, though states can choose whether to expand. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have done so. CHIP, which is also jointly funded, serves children in families with incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid. 

The decision to expand, made optional by the U.S. Supreme Court, has led to wide variation in Medicaid uptake by state. While 6.7 million more people are on Medicaid now than before expansion started in October of 2013, enrollment among non-expansion states has increased 3 percent, compared with a 17-percent surge in expansion states. 

The federal government is financing 100 percent of the cost of expansion for the first three years, eventually lowering its share of payment to 90 percent. Even states that didn’t expand Medicaid have seen the program’s enrollment increase as people who were eligible under previous rules have sought coverage to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to have health insurance. The federal government pays its traditional share for those patients, ranging from about 74 percent in Mississippi to 50 percent in a number of other states.

Several states, including New Hampshire and Ohio, joined the expansion after the official start. Ten of the 24 states where expansion was in effect since October have seen increases of 30 percent or more, according to CMS. The agency notes that the total figure reported for May is preliminary and likely to rise as all states report and late-filed applications are processed. 

Read the full report here.

Chris covers health care for GOVERNING. An Ohio native with an interest in education, he set out for New Orleans with Teach For America after finishing a degree at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He later covered government and politics at the Savannah Morning News and its South Carolina paper. He most recently covered North Carolina’s 2013 legislative session for the Associated Press.
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