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Kaiser Reports Surging Medicaid Enrollment

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Almost 3.3 million more people were enrolled in state Medicaid programs in June 2009 than in the previous June, a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation reports.

In its analysis, Kaiser’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured notes the enrollment was the biggest ever one-year increase in numbers enrolled, boosting Medicaid enrollment by 7.5%, to 46.9 million people as of June 2009.

It was the first time in decades that every state experienced an increase in Medicaid enrollment, the report states. In 32 states, enrollment grew at least twice as fast as the year before, according to the analysis.

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The increase in enrollment reflects the role that Medicaid plays in reducing the numbers of people who become uninsured when the economy falters, with many people turning to the program for help after being laid off and losing their employer-based health insurance, Kaiser noted in its report. However, millions who were not eligible for Medicaid likely joined the ranks of the nation’s uninsured, the report observes.

“State Medicaid programs have been able to help millions of Americans who have nowhere else to turn in a recession,” said Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the foundation and executive director of KCMU. “But the states obviously face significant fiscal pressures as increases in enrollment push up costs at a time when state budgets are already severely constrained.”