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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Medicaid boosts Obamacare

ourfuture.org Medicaid expansion leading the pack in Obamacare enrollment. AP: “Often dismissed, Medicaid has signed up 444,000 people in 10 states in the six weeks since open enrollment began … Twenty-five states are expanding their Medicaid programs, but data for all of them was not available … In Colorado, Medicaid applications in October were six to nine times what they were the month before … A yearslong effort to reach eligible residents apparently succeeded in generating the increased demand. The state has installed self-service kiosks in community clinics, hospitals and libraries to sign people up. And a year ago, nurses statewide agreed to help by promoting Medicaid to low-income uninsured patients … Some states have used food stamp rolls to find people who might also be eligible for expanded Medicaid. Income verification forms used for food stamps require frequent recertification, so that means the program’s beneficiaries are Medicaid-ready.”Even though website hiccups interfering with some Medicaid enrollment. NYT: “Problems with the federalhealth insurance website have prevented tens of thousands of low-income people from signing up for Medicaid even though they are eligible … The Obama administration has adopted what it calls a ‘no wrong door’ policy: If a person files an application with the exchange for private insurance but appears to be eligible for Medicaid, the exchange will automatically transfer the full application to the state Medicaid agency, and vice versa … In fact, many consumers will need to make more than one stop. If the exchange finds them potentially eligible for Medicaid, it may be faster for them to file separate applications with a state Medicaid office than to wait for the federal government to transfer their files to the state.”
Overall enrollment numbers to date slated for release this week. The Hill: “A new flurry of enrollment estimates for ObamaCare suggests the administration will have a lackluster figure to announce when it releases its official early enrollment count later this week. Fewer than 50,000 people have successfully purchased private health plans on marketplaces linked to HealthCare.gov, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. In a separate analysis, consulting firm Avalere Health found that about 50,000 people have enrolled in either private coverage or Medicaid through 12 state-based exchanges.”
October Obamacare enrollment was always going to be low, notes TNR’s Jonathan Cohn: “…nobody I know expects the October enrollment figures to be high. One reason is that very few people buy insurance at the beginning of open enrollment periods. This is true for public programs and this is true for government initiatives … But that’s not the whole story. Healthcare.gov barely worked at the start and still isn’t working that well now … there’s still time—just as long as healthcare.gov and the poorly functioning states are operating better by late November.”

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