440,000 Enrolled in Medicaid Since Oct. 1, Analysis Finds
Enrollment in Medicaid has become the "rare early success story" of the Affordable Care Act, with about 440,000 U.S. residents gaining Medicaid coverage since Oct. 1 in 10 of the 25 states that are participating in the ACA's expansion, according to an analysis from Avalere Health, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
For example, in Colorado, the number of Medicaid applications in October increased by six to nine times over applications in September. Sue Birch, head of the state's Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, said the increased number of enrollees is part of a longstanding effort to reach eligible residents. The state implemented self-service kiosks at community clinics, libraries and hospitals to encourage enrollment, and nurses around the state helped promote the program to low-income uninsured residents. Other states used food stamp rolls to market the program to people who might be eligible, the AP/Bee reports.
According to the AP/Bee, the 440,000 figure represents only a partial count. The figure might also include some individuals already eligible for the program under current guidelines (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/Sacramento Bee, 11/12).
Federal Exchange Issues Halt Medicaid Coverage
Although the Medicaid expansion has gotten off to a smoother start than the exchanges, problems with the federal health insurance exchange website have stifled thousands of low-income U.S. residents from enrolling in Medicaid, the New York Times reports.
Most of the problems stem from the inability of HealthCare.gov to electronically transfer individuals' applications to state Medicaid offices. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued rules that said the exchanges must transfer all data to Medicaid "promptly and without undue delay" using a "secure electronic interface." However, because of technical issues, the federal exchange website has been unable to comply with the rules.
Further, the Obama administration has touted its "no wrong door" policy, meaning if an individual tries to enroll in coverage on the exchange and he or she appears to be eligible for Medicaid, the site is supposed to automatically transfer the applicant's data to the state Medicaid agency. However, such transfers have been stalled or are not occurring at all.
While coverage for those with private insurance purchased through the exchanges begins on Jan. 1, those eligible for Medicaid could gain coverage immediately if the federal government transferred their applications. According to the Times, it might be faster for eligible Medicaid beneficiaries to file separate applications with the state Medicaid office rather than waiting for the government to transfer applications (Pear, New York Times, 11/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.