Nov. 14, 2013 - Supporters and
opponents of the federal health law still can’t decide whether to call
it the “woodwork” or “welcome mat” effect — the millions of people
currently eligible for Medicaid who are not enrolled and who are
expected to sign up as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
The Obama administration’s first
enrollment report released Wednesday shows the phenomenon is real. It is
happening even in Republican-led states that have fought the health law
and refused to take advantage of a provision that would expand their
In the first month of open
enrollment, about 91,000 people in those non-expanding states who would
have qualified for Medicaid before but had not signed up, came to the
federal online marketplace and were deemed eligible for the program,
according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of the data.
“This is good news,” said Deborah
Bachrach, a partner with consulting firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and a
former Medicaid director in New York. “It shows despite the opposition
from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Florida legislature and other states
that people want coverage and they are coming in and applying despite
the problems with healthcare.gov.”
Half the states next year are
expanding Medicaid under the law to cover everyone under 138 percent of
the federal poverty level, which is about $15,800 for an individual.
Those who are eligible for Medicaid
or the Children’s Health Insurance Program still must enroll through the
state Medicaid program. About 9 million people are expected to sign up
for Medicaid as a result of the health law in the first year–including
many who are eligible today for the program, according to the
Congressional Budget Office.
In all, nearly 400,000 people
nationally have been deemed eligible for Medicaid after going through
either the federal online marketplace or their state exchange, according
to the government’s announcement Wednesday. No information was released
to indicate how many of the people applying in expansion states were
However, figures released on
Wednesday by Washington state — which has its own online exchange —
show nearly 70,000 people enrolled in Medicaid of which 30,000 were
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