Medicaid Enrollment to Top A Record-High 100 Million

The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) projected that Medicaid enrollment will surpass 100 million individuals in early 2023. This will be a record number of enrollees, which includes 21 million ineligible individuals who earn more than the required amount to qualify for welfare.

Key takeaways:
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    By 2023, the percentage of Americans enrolled in Medicaid will have reached a record high, at around one-third, regardless of eligibility.
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    President Biden is poised to extend the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) that allows for typically ineligible Medicaid enrollment, for the 12th time, despite previous claims that the pandemic is over.
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    The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is urging states to remove ineligible people from Medicaid coverage as soon as the federal government allows it.

A record-breaking one in three Americans will be enrolled in Medicaid, regardless of their eligibility.

A big reason for the sharp rise in enrollment is that the federal government continues extending the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). Under COVID-19 criteria, states get more money for Medicaid as long as everyone who is already in the program stays in it.

The Biden Administration extended emergency COVID funding in October to last through at least mid-January 2023. This is amid recent claims by President Biden that the COVID pandemic is now over.

National uninsured rates have reached a record low in 2022. The Biden administration has expressed pride in this fact due to the significant health disparities in the U.S. that have been intensified by the pandemic.

The FGA is urging states to begin working toward removing ineligible people from Medicaid coverage. Currently, the PHE blocks states from removing typically ineligible enrollees.

The right-wing advocacy group has spoken out against the Families First Coronavirus Response Act's (FFCRA) 6.2% increase in federal Medicaid matching funds, saying it will strain taxpayer money.

"Medicaid was meant to be a state-run safety net program for the truly needy. Now, it has been warped into a federally controlled vehicle to expand Medicaid for all, including those able to work."

Tarren Bragdon, President, and CEO of FGA

Medicaid was initially created for seniors, low-income children, and individuals with disabilities needing healthcare coverage.

The number of able-bodied adults enrolled in the program has increased roughly five times between 2000 and 2019, largely due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enacted during President Obama’s administration.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reports that enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program has increased in every state since the pandemic's beginning.

The KFF also estimated that between 5.3 million and 14.2 million people receiving Medicaid benefits could lose their coverage when the COVID emergency requirement for continuous enrollment ends.

A recent study by the Urban Institute found millions of Medicaid recipients don't know that when the COVID-19 public health emergency is over, their states will reevaluate their eligibility for the program.

Nearly 80% of participants in the survey said they weren't told how to navigate the process. Also, less than one-third of people who may lose Medicaid coverage know what other coverage options exist.

Most Medicaid enrollees, typically ineligible for coverage, are not eligible to enter the Health Insurance Marketplace or get employer-based insurance.

Regarding Medicaid, Urban Institute researchers think it's up to state agencies to do more outreach and make it easier to renew coverage so that people don't lose coverage when PHE ends.

FGA and PHE critics say states should be assertive with Medicaid redetermination processes.

"It is unsustainable, unfair to those who are truly needy, and will continue to spiral out of control unless states break free and Congress fights back," said Bragdon.

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