The 36 states that rely on HealthCare.gov to transmit their residents' applications to Medicaid could wind up delaying their enrollment, Politico reported.
HealthCare.gov has yet to transmit a single Medicaid application to those states for processing, even though enrollment is expected to start on Jan. 1, according to Politico. That could leave an unknown number of applicants eligible for Medicaid without coverage at the start of the year, potentially depriving hospitals of revenue related to their coverage.
"It starts becoming a problem the closer you get to January," Darin Gordon, director of Tennessee's Medicaid program, TennCare, told Politico at a conference in Washington, D.C. "When you start getting to December, everybody needs to start thinking about what kind of implications that might cause."
And while those applicants believe they will be enrolled in Medicaid, they may not discover they lack coverage until they visit a provider, Politico reported.
Although some states have been providing workarounds to consumers applying for commercial coverage, the amount of aid offered to Medicaid-eligible applicants varies from state to state.
The issue involving the federal health insurance exchange has surfaced at a time when it is becoming clear that demand for expanded Medicaid coverage has been extraordinarily high. As many as 1.5 million Americans may have applied for Medicaid coverage since October, StateLine reported. And the so-called "woodwork effect"--wherein people previously eligible for Medicaid but weren't enrolled applied for it as a result of publicity surrounding the Affordable Care Act--has been extensive, according to Kaiser Health News. As many as 91,000 people have applied for coverage in the two dozen states that have decided not to expand their Medicaid eligibility. That includes nearly 13,000 in Florida and 12,000 in Texas, perhaps the staunchest of the anti-ACA states.
"This is good news," Deborah Bachrach, a partner with consulting firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and a former Medicaid director in New York, told Kaiser Health News. "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."
States use fed exchange workaround to prevent coverage gaps
Early exchange enrollment tilting toward Medicaid
Some insurance exchanges won't be able to process Medicaid applications to start
CMS: States can keep IT funds for Medicaid, exchanges without implementation
State exchanges bogged down by technical difficulties, too