Maryland’s Medicaid Enrollment Sees Massive Uptick

As of the last week of January, 121,000 Maryland residents have enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program. These numbers exceeded the projections, in which the total of enrollees were not expected to total more than 110,000.

According to experts, the higher than expected numbers have a clear reason—95,000 of the enrollees did not have to navigate the state exchange system, a system well critiqued for its glitches, malfunctions and length of time it took to enroll. These enrollees were simply transferred from Primary Adult Care (PAC), the state’s limited Medicaid program. Those with previous PAC plans were simply automatically upgraded to the fully benefited Medicaid programs.

However, according to Sarah Gantz at the Baltimore Business Journal, the state does not have to pick up the bill for the upgraded Medicaid service. A large portion of the new Medicaid members will be covered by Federal funds earmarked for states that expanded their public health care programs.

This jump in enrollment contrasts with the lower than expected numbers for the private marketplace exchanges. In an attempt to mitigate the problems of the health exchanges, on February 6th it was announced that a bipartisan group of state lawmakers are to meet regularly to offer “ongoing legislative oversight” for the private marketplace exchanges. The news of the bipartisan group was announced by the Maryland General Assembly.

Though the Medicaid numbers are a good sign either way for those in need of subsidized benefits, the roll-out for Medicaid had its own problems, ranging from mailing upwards of 1000 enrollment packages (which did contain sensitive information) to the wrong houses and an emergency vote to provide health care to those who tried to get insurance through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange but couldn’t due to technical problems.

And there may be another problem plaguing new enrollments to the state’s Medicaid program. Researchers from PerryUndem Research/Communication found that the lack of new enrollees is in part based on “communication failure,” i.e., many of those who were eligible either didn’t know Medicaid had expanded in Maryland or didn’t think they would qualify. This explains why key proponents of the health exchanges have been doing all they can to get the information to those who need it.

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