Medicaid enrollment increased 5 million during pandemic

MM Curator summary


A new study shows that unemployment is not the main factor driving increased Medicaid enrollment.


The article below has been highlighted and summarized by our research team. It is provided here for member convenience as part of our Curator service.


About 5 million more Americans enrolled in Medicaid by September 2020 compared with January 2020, a research letter today in JAMA Network Open reports. The data showed that enrollment was flat until March 2020, where expansion and nonexpansion states eventually increased enrollment by 1.4 and 1.6 percentage points, respectively. 

The researchers found that enrollment increases were associated with Medicaid expansion states (0.68 percentage point, adjusted; 95% CI, 0.07 to 1.29, P = 0.03) but not with steps to simplify the application process.

What was surprising, the researchers say, was that enrollment growth was lower in states with unemployment increases (-0.20 percentage point, adjusted; 95% CI, -0.34 to -0.06). The results were similar when the researchers were looking at September 2019 to September 2020 data.

“This may indicate that Medicaid growth is associated with factors other than job loss,” the researchers write, “including reduced work hours making more people eligible, greater focus on health care during the pandemic, and the maintenance of effort requirement passed by Congress in March 2020, which offered states more funding in exchange for a requirement that they not disenroll anyone from Medicaid during the public health emergency.”

May 5 JAMA Netw Open study

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