Medicaid Enrollment Grows Despite Predictions, CMS Reports
Despite predictions that budget deficits would force many states to reduce Medicaid enrollment in 2003, the program covered "a record 42.4 million people last year," USA Today reports. According to figures from CMS, Medicaid enrollment grew by 1.6 million or 3.9% in 2003, triple the population growth rate. CMS expects enrollment to grow 2.1% in 2004, the slowest rate since 1999. Some states did make cuts that resulted in at least one million fewer people receiving Medicaid coverage, according to Victoria Wachino, associate director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Texas made the largest cuts in 2003, with analysts predicting that 142,000 people will be dropped from Medicaid in 2004. However, many states predicted to reduce enrollment actually increased coverage, USA Today reports. For instance, California predicted that 543,000 residents would lose coverage in 2003, but Medicaid enrollment grew by 3.4%. Illinois also added 55,000 working parents to its Medicaid program, despite a $5 billion state budget shortfall, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) hopes to expand coverage by a similar number this year (Cauchon, USA Today, 3/1). The figures demonstrate the difficulties states face as they "try to rein in their fastest-growing cost: health care for residents who can't afford it," according to USA Today. "States see Medicaid as a painless way to gain revenue -- they don't have to raise taxes to get more money" for it, Joseph Antos, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, said (Cauchon, USA Today, 3/1).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.