CMS: Medicaid eligibility tops 1.46M people

More than 1.46 million people have applied and been determined eligible for Medicaid or states' Children Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) in October, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said in a new report.

Of those 1.46 million people, more than half live in states expanding their Medicaid programs, while 48 percent lives in states that have opted out of Medicaid expansion. For states not expanding Medicaid, Florida had the most new eligible individuals in October, with 164,993 determinations.

The newly eligible consumers also represent a rise in applications for Medicaid and CHIP, with expanding Medicaid states seeing a 15.5 percent increase in applications compared to the last three months. Medicaid expansion opt-out states saw a 4 percent boost in Medicaid applications, CMS said.

"This shows a real need and desire for coverage for low-income Americans," the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said in response to the report, according to the New York Times.

Medicaid and CHIP enrollment is far outpacing sign-ups for private plans through the health insurance exchanges. In October, only more than 26,00 people enrolled in private health plans sold on the federal marketplace, while about 79,000 signed up for private plans through state-run exchanges, the Times noted.

"We are encouraged by the 1.46 million people found eligible for Medicaid and CHIP in just the first month of open enrollment," said CMS spokesperson Emma Sandoe, Kaiser Health News reported. "The Affordable Care Act is making it easier for low-income individuals to get health insurance, by simplifying the system and allowing them to fill out one application to find out if they qualify for Medicaid or tax credits for private health insurance."

To learn more:
- here's the CMS report (.pdf)
- read the New York Times article
- see the Kaiser Health News article