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Feds Make It Easier for States to Enroll Poor Under Health Law

About 13 million people expected to be added to Medicaid rosters next year (May 18)

According to a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Obama administration is making it easier for states to sign up the poor for health coverage — and to help those individuals stay covered.

On May 17, it informed state officials that they could simplify enrollment in Medicaid, the federal–state program for the poor, to handle the onslaught of millions of anticipated enrollees next year when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands coverage. The administration said the changes are geared to states that are expanding their programs, but they may also be adopted by others.

At least 22 states have committed to expanding Medicaid, one of the chief ways the law extends coverage to the uninsured, and several more are undecided, according to consultant Avalere Health. The Supreme Court made expansion of Medicaid optional, and some Republican-controlled states have opted against it.

In a letter to state officials, Medicaid Director Cindy Mann laid out several ways states might streamline enrollment for adults, including using data people have already submitted to qualify for foods stamps — a practice that a few states permit for children.

States may also allow adults to stay enrolled in the program for up to 1 year, even if their income changes, she said.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, approximately 13 million people are expected to enroll in Medicaid starting next year.

To help states deal with the demands of increased enrollment, they will have the option in the first 3 months of next year to extend the Medicaid renewal period by up to 90 days. That means that if an individual on Medicaid comes up for renewal on Feb. 1, their eligibility could be extended to May.

Source: Kaiser Health News; May 18, 2013.

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