Medicaid enrollment swells under pandemic, hitting nearly 74M

Medicaid
New data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services highlight how much the pandemic swelled Medicaid rolls. (Getty/designer491)

Medicaid enrollment grew significantly under the pandemic, according to new data from the Biden administration.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said Monday that as of January 2021, 73.7 million people were enrolled in Medicaid, and nearly 6.8 million were enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Total enrollment across the two programs was 80.5 million in January, up from 70.7 million in February 2020. Nearly 9.9 million people enrolled in these programs over the last year, up 13.9%.

More than 38.3 million children were covered in both Medicaid and CHIP, accounting for nearly half of the total enrollment, CMS said.

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Officials attribute the increased enrollment largely to changes under the COVID-19 national public health emergency, especially the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which boosted funding.

“The Biden-Harris administration is using every lever to ensure any American needing access to quality health coverage receives it. Now more than ever, people need the peace of mind of knowing that they have health coverage,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement.

“This report reminds us what a critical program and rock Medicaid continues to be in giving tens of millions of children and adults access to care. This pandemic taught us that now more than ever, we must work to strengthen Medicaid and make it available whenever and wherever it’s needed using the unprecedented investments Congress provided," Becerra said.