Virtually no one else seems to be paying any attention to the hundreds of thousands of people now covered by Medicaid, so I will.
And before we go any further, note that these are very early, preliminary numbers that don’t include every state participating in the expansion or states that have very recently chosen to participate.
From the Associated Press
Medicaid has signed up 444,000 people in 10 states in the six weeks since open enrollment began, according to Avalere Health, a market analysis firm. Twenty-five states are expanding their Medicaid programs, but data for all of them was not available. [...]
Avalere’s statistic of at least 444,000 new Medicaid enrollees comes from 10 of the 25 states that accepted the expansion, so it only represents a partial count. Those numbers may also include some individuals eligible for Medicaid under current rules.
For the short amount of time that has passed, 440,00 is a significant number and it only includes 10 out of 25 states that have chosen to participate in the expansion.
If this figure included the state of Ohio, which only just recently decided to participate in the expansion, it could potentially balloon to over 700,000, and eventually it will.
One can only imagine how high the number would go if more states chose to expand Medicaid. Texas, for example, is denying healthcare to more than 1 million people by refusing to expand the program.
While it has been mentioned dozens of times in the past, it’s worth repeating that expanding Medicaid will cost states nothing for the first several years. The federal government will initially cover 100 percent of the cost and 90 percent of the cost for the foreseeable future. Expanding the program will not harm the economy of any state. On the contrary, refusing to expand the program may hurt their economy.
It’s my belief that the expansion of Medicaid will ultimately surpass expectations and enrollment on the individual market will fall slightly below expectations because we underestimate just how poor much of the nation is. Many people who are seeking insurance are finding that they now qualify for Medicaid whereas they previously didn’t.
Prior to expansion, the Medicaid program excludes a significant number of the working poor.
The early success of Medicaid expansion and the refusal of Republican governors to expand the program, denying healthcare to millions of the working poor, should be the real story today. But that won’t drive ratings the way a horse-race will.