By Cindy Mann
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Deputy Administrator
Centers for Medicaid and CHIP Services Director
Medicaid enrollment continues to increase all across the country, especially in those states that have expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act.
As of the end of May, 6.7 million more individuals were enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as compared to the baseline period from July through September 2013, an increase of 11.4 percent. That includes more than 920,000 additional people enrolled in May as compared to April in the 48 states and the District of Columbia that reported data.
As we've seen for months, growth was more pronounced in 26 states (including the District of Columbia) that had adopted and implemented the Medicaid expansion by the end of May. Enrollment in those states rose by 17 percent, while states that have not expanded reported only a 3 percent increase.
The Affordable Care Act provides states with new opportunities to expand their Medicaid programs to meet the needs of more residents. In states that expanded Medicaid, most people with incomes up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or $15,521 for an individual and $31,721 for a family of four, are eligible for coverage.
This month, for the first time, we are also reporting separately the total number of children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP for those states that are reporting the relevant data for each month in 2014. In the 38 states that reported relevant data, more than half of all Medicaid and CHIP enrollees are children, highlighting the importance of these programs to the health and well-being of our nation's children.
Under the Affordable Care Act, coverage for the new low-income adult group is fully paid for during the first three years by the federal government, and federal funding for this group will never fall below 90 percent for the years following. Increasing access to Medicaid coverage reduces the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals, 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 those businesses), and strengthens local economies.
The open enrollment period for private health plans through the federal or state Health Insurance Marketplaces has ended for this year. Nevertheless, consumers may still apply for Medicaid and CHIP coverage year round and, once enrolled, can use this coverage right away.