Kaiser Permanente: Medicaid enrollment rising while states face fiscal challenges

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As economic conditions deteriorated and unemployment rose from 5.5 percent in June 2008 to 9.5 percent in June 2009, national Medicaid enrollment grew at a rate not seen since the early days of program implementation in the late 1960s, according to a June 2009 data snapshot on Medicaid enrollment recently released from Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente.

According to Kaiser Permanente, monthly Medicaid enrollment in June 2009 rose by 3.29 million, a 7.5 percent increase over June 2008. The program expanded to cover 46.8 million Americans in June 2009, many of whom turned to Medicaid as their only source of health coverage as they lost jobs and income during the economic downturn, Kaiser Permanente stated.

It was the first time since the early 1990s that every state experienced an increase in Medicaid enrollment, and in 32 states enrollment grew at least twice as fast as during the year before, according to the analysis, which includes data breakouts by state, according to the organization.

Given historical trends in Medicaid enrollment, it is likely that enrollment will continue to rise over the next year, Kaiser Permanente concluded. “The impact of the economic recession on children and families through job loss and the corresponding loss of health insurance is still being realized.”

This rise in enrollment is occurring at the same time that states are facing fiscal constraints and the potential expiration of enhanced federal aid on Dec. 31, making it difficult for them to meet this growing demand for health coverage, the organization observed.