Nearly 1.5 million people were deemed eligible in October to enroll in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program through state agencies or the state-by-state insurance markets tied to the new health care law, the Obama administration said Tuesday.
The Department of Health and Human Services said that enrollment in the health entitlement programs for low-income Americans jumped by 15 percent in October, compared with monthly rates in July through September, in states that opted to expand Medicaid under President Obama's health care law.
The Affordable Care Act extends Medicaid benefits to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. However, only about half the states opted to expand the federal-state program after the Supreme Court made it optional in June 2012.
Some states said it was too good of a deal to pass up because the federal government will pay for 100 percent of the expanded population in 2014-16 before scaling back its contribution to 90 percent by 2020.
"Since October 1, when the new Health Insurance Marketplaces opened, we've been hearing stories about those who are enrolling in Medicaid and CHIP coverage every day. ... This shows a real need and desire for coverage for low income Americans," HHS said Tuesday in a blog post.
Conservative critics of the health care law say the reforms are bloating a "broken" entitlement program and far outpacing enrollment in private health plans under the president's overhaul, in part because of rampant flaws on the main Obamacare website.
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