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Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Now Totals Almost 66 Million

By Rebecca Adams, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

July 11, 2014 -- Federal officials announced late last week that 920,628 more people enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program in May.

Officials also admitted they'd previously overstated by more than half a million the programs' total enrollment in April.

The momentum in Medicaid and children's health coverage brought the total number of people in both programs to about 65.9 million people, according to a recent federal report.

That's about 6.7 million people more than the programs had in the three months before the federal open enrollment period started Oct. 1 under the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152). That represents an 11.4 percent increase in enrollment. The estimate does not include Connecticut, Maine, and North Dakota.

More than half of the people in Medicaid and CHIP are children, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The estimates may change, however, when officials make the numbers final. CMS said that it had overestimated the number of people in the programs in April by about 583,752 people in a previous report. Updated estimates showed that in April, about 64.4 million people were enrolled that month. A previous CMS report inaccurately indicated that about 65.0 million were signed up.

While it is difficult to get a precise count of Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries, the trends are clear. In states that broadened eligibility, enrollment rose by more than 17 percent when compared to the three-month average before Oct. 1. But in those that did not expand Medicaid, enrollment increased by a much smaller 3 percent.

CMS Deputy Administrator Cindy Mann in a blog post called on states to expand Medicaid.

"Increasing access to Medicaid coverage reduces the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals, lowers 'cost shifting' to businesses that see higher health insurance premiums (as some of the costs of caring for the uninsured are passed on to those businesses), and strengthens local economies," she wrote.

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