An additional 3 million people are now enrolled in Medicaid since Obamacare launched in October, the Obama administration reported Friday, providing some further data points for understanding how the law is covering the uninsured.
Medicaid enrollment had become a point of contention between the law’s supporters and critics. The administration had taken credit for any and every one who enrolled in Medicaid since Oct. 1, regardless of whether they were already enrolled in Medicaid before Obamacare kicked in. Some journalists, and conservatives, called those administration figures into question, making the point that Obamacare shouldn’t received the credit for people who were already in the program.
But until now, it was difficult to ascertain what percentage of Medicaid enrollments were new and what percentage were renewals.
Friday’s figures are the official first attempt by the administration to quantify how many new enrollees could be attributed to Obamacare. Compared to enrollment in September, Medicaid had added 3 million enrollees by the end of February. That number would combine people covered under the law’s Medicaid expansion, as well as those who were previously eligible but had not enrolled.
For context, the contentious number — the raw number of people determined eligible for Medicaid since October, including some people already enrolled in the program — increased to 11.7 million in February.
That suggests that roughly one-quarter of the Medicaid enrollees since Obamacare took effect Oct. 1 are previously uninsured who are now getting coverage through the program.
A White House official noted to TPM that the 3 million figure does not include March Medicaid enrollees, which could be significant. HealthCare.gov and its state counterparts saw record private enrollment before the March 31 deadline. Medicaid enrollment also continues year-round, meaning people can come into the program after the private enrollment period has closed.
In states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, enrollment grew significantly more (8.3 percent) than in states that refused to expand the program (1.6 percent). The White House official noted that up to 5.7 million people will be left uncovered in the 20-plus states that declined the Medicaid expansion.
Taken with the 7 million-plus private coverage enrollees announced by the administration earlier this week, a more official picture of how many people have gotten covered under Obamacare starts to emerge: 3 million new Medicaid enrollees plus 3 million young adults newly covered by their parents’ plan plus an estimated 2.3 million of the private enrollees who were previously uninsured.
That adds up to 8.3 million newly insured people under Obamacare, with more possibly to come. A Los Angeles Times analysis earlier this week, another independent attempt to quantify the law’s impact, had estimated that the law had covered 9.5 million uninsured people. It credited Medicaid with 4.5 million new enrollees.
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