Medicaid enrollment reaches high of 74M Americans during pandemic
The number of Americans enrolled in Medicaid reached a record of almost 74 million earlier this year after ballooning in enrollees during the pandemic, the administration announced on Monday.
A Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) report documented the jump in Medicaid’s enrollees by 9.7 million between February 2020 — before the U.S. declared public health emergency — and January 2021 in a 15 percent increase.
The federal agency attributes the boost in enrollees to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed in March 2020.
The first relief bill approved by Congress included a provision giving states a temporary 6.2 percent increase in funds to cover expected higher Medicaid costs, as long as these states did not remove any enrollees until after the emergency was declared over.
“The increase we are seeing is exactly how Medicaid works: the program steps in to support people and their families when times are tough,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement. “For the parents that may have lost a job or had another life change during the pandemic, having access to coverage for themselves and their kids is life-changing.”
The enrollment count marks the highest since the CMS started tracking the data in its current form in 2013, The Washington Post noted.
Compared to Medicaid, enrollees in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) remained relatively stable throughout the time period, as states were not mandated to keep all enrollees during the emergency. The number of CHIP enrollees saw an uptick from almost 6.7 million to nearly 6.8 million in a 1.8 percent increase.
In total, Medicaid and CHIP counted 80.5 million enrollees in the report.
The CMS report does not distinguish how many new enrollees signed up for the coverage and how many remained on the roll who normally wouldn’t have without the mandate against removal.
President Biden’s administration has strived to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act as millions of Americans remain uninsured. This year, the administration launched a special enrollment period for people to sign up for ObamaCare through August after previous enrollment was open for six weeks.
Earlier this month, Biden said 1.2 million people had signed up during the special enrollment period.