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Medicaid CHIP Coverage Grew Steadily in Late 2014, CMS Says

By Rebecca Adams, CQ Roll Call

February 2, 2014 -- Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) grew by about 17.5 percent from mid-2013 to November 2014, according to an updated enrollment report that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released last week.

Children in Medicaid and families in CHIP comprised about 54 percent of the population in November.

States that expanded Medicaid eligibility for people with income of up to 138 percent of poverty grew significantly more than those that did not, but as in previous monthly reports, both types of states tended to see a net increase in enrollment. States that had broadened eligibility grew by 25.5 percent, while those that did not grew by about 7 percent through November.

The number of people in Medicaid or CHIP grew by more than 10.1 million people over the course of a little more than a year.

The change from October to November 2014 was modest but steady–about 444,324 people, or a 0.65 percent increase. That mirrored a 0.62 increase from September 2014 to October 2014, according to recent updated figures.

In November, nearly 69 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. 

Medicaid monthly enrollment reports compare a three-month average from July to September 2013, before the first marketplace open enrollment period started, to the months after that. The reason why CMS officials use a three-month average is to mitigate the effect of any fluctuations in the data.

The monthly data give an indication of how much Medicaid is growing. The number of people getting coverage is rising in part because some states expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2014 and in part because people who qualify for the programs are seeing more publicity about the benefits.

"These numbers are encouraging–not because of the continued growth–but because they reflect the millions of lives changed by the Affordable Care Act," said Vikki Wachino, Acting Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Service, in a blog post. Wachino assumed the post last week after the previous director, Cindy Mann, left the administration, according to an administration official.

"We are encouraged by interest from governors from all across the country who understand both the economic benefits of Medicaid expansion and the health and financial security it brings to many individuals," Wachino wrote.

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