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Medicaid enrollment soars to record 80M during COVID-19 pandemic

By
Don Jacobson
Teachers and school employees in Wylie, Texas, receive a COVID-19 vaccine on March 26. The pandemic was behind a record surge in Medicaid enrollment during 2020, officials said Monday. File photo by Ian Halperin/UPI
Teachers and school employees in Wylie, Texas, receive a COVID-19 vaccine on March 26. The pandemic was behind a record surge in Medicaid enrollment during 2020, officials said Monday. File photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

June 21 (UPI) -- Enrollment in state Medicaid and children's health programs shot up by nearly 10 million to an all-time high of 80 million during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden administration announced Monday.

A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services snapshot showed combined enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) jumped by 13.9% between February 2020 and January 2021.

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Enrollment in Medicaid alone soared 15.2% to 74 million during the same period.

The record-high numbers show that for parents who may have lost a job or experienced another adverse event during the pandemic, "having access to coverage for themselves and their kids is life-changing," CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in an issued statement.

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The administration, she said, "is committed to ensuring our nation's marginalized communities and low-income families have the coverage they need."

"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," added Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

CMS officials said the massive enrollment jump is attributable to a surge in demand caused by the economic fallout of the pandemic, as well as to increased federal funding provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was enacted by Congress in March 2020 as the first of a series of COVID-19 relief bills.

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The legislation provides states with a temporary 6.2% increase in their medical assistance payments as long as the health emergency remains ongoing. In exchange, states needed to promise to not remove anyone from the rolls until the emergency is declared over.

The Biden administration has indicated the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration will likely remain in effect at least through the end of this year.

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