HHS reports Medicaid enrollment surge

Enrollments in Medicaid under ObamaCare surged to 6 million by the end of April, with significant increases in Nevada, Oregon and West Virginia, the Obama administration announced in a blog post Wednesday.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cheered ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid for contributing to the marked increase in sign-ups for the program.

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In states that adopted the expansion, enrollment grew by 15.3 percent over the pre-ObamaCare rate, according to the HHS. States that failed to widen eligibility to the program saw enrollment increase by only 3.3 percent.

The White House is urging recalcitrant states to pursue the expansion, and a handful of red-state Senate Democrats are pushing the issue as a way to appeal to centrist voters in November.

A group of Democratic senators, including Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.), wrote to Republican governors on Wednesday arguing that the policy would benefit their states.

A total of 1.1 million additional enrollments took place in the month of April compared with past enrollment trends, the HHS said.

The sign-ups arrive as many states continue to struggle with Medicaid application backlogs, meaning that some new enrollees could wait months to be fully processed.

The Health Department did not address the issue in its blog post, but has noted elsewhere that Medicaid benefits are retroactive for people who are eligible for the program.

Officials emphasized Wednesday that expanding eligibility will cost states significantly less than the federal government.

"Coverage for newly eligible adult beneficiaries is fully paid for during the first three years by the federal government, and is never less than 90 percent for the years following," wrote Medicare-Medicaid Deputy Administrator Cindy Mann.

"In addition, increased coverage reduces hospitals’ uncompensated care, lowers 'cost shifting' to businesses that see higher health insurance premiums … and strengthens local economies."

The post also noted that consumers can apply for Medicaid at any time, a contrast with the limited enrollment periods on the health insurance exchanges.