SC expects big Medicaid growth, even without Medicaid expansion

Despite not expanding its Medicaid program eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, South Carolina still expects to see its rolls grow an estimated 16 percent by 2015--triple the annual average and a higher jump than even among states expanding coverage, Kaiser Health News reported.

The reason for such dramatic Medicaid growth is tied to the so-called "woodwork effect," wherein people who were previously eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled will now do so, prodded by potential financial penalties included in the ACA, according to KHN. South Carolina is also increasing its outreach efforts to potential Medicaid enrollees.

"The awareness component is huge," South Carolina Medicaid Director Tony Keck told the publication.

The growth could prove a boon for financially strapped hospitals in South Carolina, although most of the eligible enrollees are children. Childless adults, no matter their income, and working parents earning more than 89 percent of the federal poverty level aren't allowed to enroll in Medicaid.

Utah and Idaho, two other states that are not planning to expand Medicaid, also expect to see double-digit percentage increases to their rolls, most of them also children, according to KHN.

Hospitals operating in states that are not expanding Medicaid coverage have been forced to cut their workforces or even close their doors, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee and Indiana University Health have been among the inpatient providers forced to cut jobs in preparation for the coming year.

In Delaware, which will expand Medicaid under the ACA via full funding from the federal government, state officials are asking lawmakers for an additional $55 million, primarily to cover adults who have already enrolled, a 4.5 percent increase to the program's budget, Delaware Online reported. Officials said the request was tied to the continued depressed economy, joblessness and increased costs to care for existing Medicaid enrollees.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- here's the Delaware Online article

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