We had previously learned in March that an estimated 11.17 million Americans took advantage of private insurance coverage offered through the ACA’s exchange/marketplaces through the second enrollment period ending in February. Today, we learn that a similar number, 11.7 million, represents the number of low income Americans newly enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) between 2013 and February 2015. That’s 23.4 million Americans directly benefiting from the expansion provisions of Titles I and II of the ACA.
Take a look at the report released last Friday by the US Department of Health & Human Services with the details, including state by state breakdowns. Some details:
- From 57,594,096 in September 2013, Medicaid/CHIP enrollment reached 70,515,716 in February 2015
- 29,245,000 of the 70.5 million are children, nearly 30 million
- States expanding Medicaid saw enrollments jumps averaging 27%, while the states refusing to expand saw only an 8% increase
- Eye-popping increases — Kentucky 85%; Oregon 69%; Nevada 67%; New Mexico 51%; Washington 50%; Arkansas and West Virginia 49%; Rhode Island 41%
- Surprises among non-Medicaid expanding states — North Carolina and Tennessee 16%; Montana 14%; Mississippi 12%
- Just depressing — Alaska, Nebraska, Utah <1%; Wyoming 1%; Alabama and Missouri 3.5%.
Of course, if the resisting states had expanded Medicaid, we would see approximately 4 million more already enrolled in Medicaid — they will come, it’s just a matter of time (Montana is only the latest, not the last).
Republican lawmakers in DC, by and large, despise Medicaid — during the ACA debate in 2009 on Capitol Hill, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) called it the “gulag” of the American health care system. They say this in spite of the fact that, these days, most of the 70+ million Americans enrolled in Medicaid get their coverage through private managed care plans. Oh well, as Governor Pappy O’Daniel remarked in the movie, “O Brother, Where Are Thou,” “there ain’t no accountin’ for taste.” The Romans, more elegantly, would have said: “De gustibus non est disputandum.”
Here’s something that’s hard to dispute. More and more Americans are coming to appreciate Medicaid as a reliable and affordable source of health insurance coverage.