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Medicaid and CHIP Population Increased in August

By Rebecca Adams, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

October 17, 2014 -- Enrollment in the Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) continued to edge up in August, reaching almost 68 million people, according to a new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The program had grown by August by about 15 percent, or 8.7 million people, compared to a three-month average from July to September the year before. Connecticut and Maine were not included in this count because they did not supply complete data.

Separately, nearly 950,000 others signed up for Medicaid before Oct. 1, 2013, through an early expansion option offered through the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152). Seven states took advantage of that opportunity.

From July to August of this year, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment rose by about 735,279 people, according to the report. 

The number of people who signed up continued to be higher in states that expanded Medicaid than in those that didn't. States that broadened eligibility saw enrollment increase by an average of 22 percent, while states that didn't expand saw enrollment grow by about 5 percent. Those numbers are similar to previous estimates, although enrollment growth in expansion states had been estimated in July to have grown by about 20 percent.

Ten states that expanded Medicaid had a 30 percent or higher boost in the number of people covered.

The health care law allows states to expand Medicaid for people up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, with the federal government picking up all of the costs through 2016.

CMS Deputy Administrator Cindy Mann noted that in New Hampshire, Medicaid coverage started on Aug. 15. Mann said that although the expansion was in effect for only half of the month, New Hampshire's enrollment rose by nearly 8 percent in August, compared to the previous month.

Mann pushed states that have not expanded to do so.

"Not only would expanding Medicaid in all states change the lives of some of our most vulnerable neighbors, the expansion would also strengthen our health system and our economy," she wrote in a blog post. "Increased coverage for the uninsured reduces hospitals' uncompensated care and lowers 'cost shifting' to businesses and everyday Americans that see higher health insurance premiums when those costs are passed on to them."  

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