- The Washington Times - Friday, April 4, 2014

The Obama administration announced Friday that 3 million people enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program from the start of Obamacare enrollment on Oct. 1 through the end of February.

Although more than 11 million people were determined eligible for the government-sponsored health programs during that period, the enrollment figure released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reflects actual enrollment, stripping away renewals, people with only limited benefits or those who were determined eligible but found another form of coverage.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states can choose whether to expand the federal-state entitlement to people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Unsurprisingly, “states that have expanded Medicaid saw a much more dramatic increase in Medicaid enrollment than States that have not,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a blog post.

“According to today’s report, among states that adopted the Medicaid coverage expansion and whose expansions were in effect in February, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment rose by 8.3 percent compared to the months prior to Marketplace open enrollment period,” she wrote. “States that have not expanded Medicaid coverage reported an increase in Medicaid enrollment of 1.6 percent over the same period.”

Mrs. Sebelius reminded states there is no deadline for expanding their programs.

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia opted to expand their programs, 19 decided not to expand and five are debating the issue, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health policy.

The federal government is set to pick to pay the full tab for the expanded population in 2014-2016, a contribution that scales down to 90 percent by 2020.

Conservatives say Washington cannot be trusted to pony up their share, and that Medicaid is already busting state budgets. Some also argue the program is dysfunctional or inefficient and should not be augmented.

Earlier this week, the Obama administration announced that 7.1 million people selected a private health plans on the law’s federal and state health exchanges, often with the help of government subsidies.

Critics noted that tally does not reflect whether someone paid for their coverage.



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