HHS touts rise in Medicaid eligibility verdicts

The number of people determined to be eligible for low-income health insurance programs grew in the month of December, the halfway point for ObamaCare's first enrollment period, according to federal health officials.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported Wednesday that more than 6.3 million people were approved to receive either Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) between October and December.

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Roughly 2.3 million of these verdicts occurred in December, a 20 percent increase over the previous month, officials said.

HHS used the data to argue that more states ought to expand their Medicaid programs using mostly federal dollars. That expansion was a mandatory part of the Affordable Care Act, but the Supreme Court made it optional.

"The increase in the number of Medicaid determinations across the country is encouraging, but more work is left to do to ensure that the millions of uninsured Americans eligible for these program gain coverage," the department wrote in a blog post.

Twenty-one states have refused to accept the expansion funds available to extend Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income adults who were previously not eligible for the program. 

Republican governors and legislators argue that the policy will ultimately drain state coffers by increasing Medicaid rolls.

Supporters note that the federal government is covering nearly all of the expansion costs in states that accept.

"Not only is expanding Medicaid coverage helping many people gain health coverage, it’s a good deal for states: coverage for newly eligible adult beneficiaries is fully federally paid for under the Affordable Care Act for the first three years, and never less than 90 percent for the years following," HHS wrote Wednesday.

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