Thursday, 16 February 2017

California Has 12,209,605 People Enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP Programs

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As of November 2016, California has enrolled 12,209,605 individuals in Medicaid and CHIP programs, according the report, “Medicaid & CHIP in California,” posted at Medicaid.gov.

This represents a net increase of 57.43 percent since the first Marketplace Open Enrollment Period and related Medicaid program changes in October 2013.

A February 15 report from CNSNews.com compared these California Medicaid/CHIP enrollment figures with the U.S. Census Bureau’s “State Population Totals Tables: 2010-2016” and concluded that the number of people enrolled in these programs in California exceeds the total populations of 44 states.

The report noted that as of January 1, 2014, states joining ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion could enroll people in the federal-state program under new, relaxed eligibility requirements. California was one of those states.

A report compiled by the Advisory Board research firm on January 31, 2016 showed that 31 states plus the District of Columbia have opted to participate in the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) Medicaid expansion.

In the fall of 2013, the ObamaCare exchanges opened to enroll people in health insurance plans for 2014.

The average number of Medicaid/CHIP enrollees in California in July-September 2013 — the last quarter before the ObamaCare exchanges opened — was 7,755,381, according to CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS].)

However, by November 2016, notes the CNSNews report (the latest month for which CMS figures are available) the number of Medicaid/CHIP enrollees in California was 12,209,605 — a 57.43 percent increase — equalling nearly one-third of the state's populace!

A quick look at the Advisory Board’s report suggests that those states that opted to participate in expanding Medicaid are notably among those that have seen severe budget woes in recent years, as well as an exodus of residents and businesses. 

California’s Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation on June 27, 2013, to expand the state's Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, to more than 1.4 million additional residents under the ACA (ObamaCare).

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) signed a state budget on June 28, 2013, that included $227 million for Medicaid expansion in the state. However, he subsequently vetoed legislation that would have made the expansion permanent in the state. This straddling of the fence may be attributable to the fact that although Christie is an ostensibly conservative Republican, Democrats control both houses of the state legislature.

On June 28, 2012, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced immediately following the Supreme Court's ruling on the ACA (National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius) that New York would participate in the expansion.

(In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the high court ruled that the expansion of Medicaid was not a valid exercise of Congress' spending power, as it would coerce states to either accept the expansion or risk losing existing Medicaid funding. The ruling made participation in the expanded Medicaid program voluntary.)

Citing CMS figures, CNSNews reported that New York has the second largest number of people enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP—with 6,411,789.

That is an increase of 733,363, or 12.9 percent from the average of 5,678,417 people enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP in New York in July-September 2013.

In recent years, the preceding states have all seen budget problems, requiring the raising of taxes, and a subsequent exodus of resident and business in recent years.

In contrast, in Texas, (as just one example) former Governor Rick Perry (R) and the Republican majority in the state legislature unanimously rejected the Medicaid expansion. The economy of Texas continues to grow, attracting new residents and businesses that have relocated from high-tax states such as California.

The Health Insurance Association of America describes Medicaid as a “government insurance program for persons of all ages whose income and resources are insufficient to pay for health care.”

The Social Security Amendments of 1965 created Medicaid by adding Title XIX to the Social Security Act. Under the program, the federal government provides matching funds to states to enable them to provide medical assistance to residents who meet certain eligibility requirements. Having limited assets is one of the primary requirements for Medicaid eligibility.

CHIP (originally called the State Children’s Health Insurance Program — SCHIP) but known the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides matching funds to states to provide for health insurance to families with children. The program was designed to cover uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.

As with practically all federal programs that provide aid to the states, one can search the Constitution in vain to find language that authorizes such programs.

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