Pandemic Pushes More Americans To Enroll in Medicaid, Reaching Record High

A senior man of African descent is indoors in a hospital room.
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A staggering 74 million Americans were covered by Medicaid amidst the pandemic — an all-time high, according to new federal figures. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released data Monday showing that from February 2020 through January 2021, Medicaid enrollment increased by 9.7 million. CNN noted that this was a 15.2% increase.

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While more Americans did need the extra coverage due to the loss of jobs, income and health benefits, according to health officials and Medicaid experts, much of this increase was because of a rule change that was part of the first coronavirus relief law passed last year, The Washington Post pointed out.

States were given extra federal funds through the American Rescue Plan to help cover Medicaid costs. However, states needed to promise that they would maintain coverage for all individuals until the federal government ended the public health emergency.

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A majority of states have accepted this expansion, but 14 states are still holding out, according to CMS data. The Washington Post added that there are little public signs that this offer will motivate these states to change their position.

However, CNN mentioned that CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure told reporters last week that the agency is in talks with some states and will continue to encourage them to accept the expansion and work with the agency to tailor their programs. If these states expanded, an additional 4 million people could potentially enroll in Medicaid.

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The Biden administration stated that the coronavirus public health emergency will remain in effect through the end of the year. “We are seeing what a lifeline the Medicaid program is to so, so many Americans,” said Brooks-LaSure in an interview Monday, as reported by The Washington Post.

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Last updated: June 22, 2021

About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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