Exchange Enrollment Reaches 7.5M Under ACA, Sebelius Says
On Thursday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said enrollment through the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges has reached an estimated 7.5 million U.S. residents, USA Today reports.
Sebelius unveiled the figure during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the fiscal year 2015 budget.
Sebelius also said about 11.7 million U.S. residents have been determined eligible Medicaid or Children's Health Insurance Program (Kennedy, USA Today, 4/10).
The exchange enrollment figure includes the reported 7.1 million people who enrolled in coverage by March 31, as well as an additional 400,000 people who have signed up so far under an enrollment extension granted by the Obama administration, which is set to end on April 15. The number also could also include enrollees through state exchanges who were not reported on the March 31 open enrollment deadline (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 4/10).
The figure does not include the number of people who have paid their first months' insurance premiums, which is required to activate coverage (USA Today, 4/10).
According to "Healthwatch," HHS has not yet released its mid-April enrollment report, which will provide enrollment data breakdowns by age and state for those who enrolled by March 31 ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 4/10).
HHS Might Crack Down on States With Faulty Medicaid Computer Systems
During the hearing, Sebelius also said that HHS might start penalizing states whose computer systems helped cause backlogs in processing Medicaid enrollment applications. The penalties could come in the form of less federal funding to offset administrative costs.
According to CQ HealthBeat, the federal government funds a portion of states' Medicaid-related administrative expenses. That funding was increased under the ACA to help states revamp their computer systems.
Sebelius said states "really have been on notice since the [ACA] was passed four years ago that they needed to update and upgrade their [Medicaid] eligibility systems to make it seamless and easy for people to enroll." She added, "Having a backlog that is not being processed in a timely fashion is just keeping way too many people from the health care that they are entitled to."
National Association of Medicaid Directors Executive Director Matt Salo criticized the possible penalties. He said, "For [HHS] to sort of get religion and say it's the states that have failed and now it's time to bring down the hammer just seems completely nonsensical and counterproductive," adding, "The backlogs are there because people who applied at HealthCare.gov in November and states are just starting to see those now" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 4/10).
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