Getting into Gear for 2014: Shifting New Medicaid Eligibility and Enrollment Policies into Drive
Looking ahead to 2014, coverage for parents and other adults will significantly improve in the 26 states implementing the Medicaid expansion and eligibility levels for children and pregnant women will remain strong across states. As such, as the ACA is fully implemented, Medicaid offers the potential to significantly reduce the number of uninsured. Outreach and enrollment efforts will be key for increasing coverage and it will be important for these efforts to be ongoing throughout the year since Medicaid enrollment is not limited to the Marketplace’s open enrollment period. In contrast to gains in states expanding Medicaid, large coverage gaps will remain in the states that do not expand, leaving millions of poor uninsured adults without access to a new coverage option.
To date, states have made meaningful progress in implementing key provisions of the ACA to provide streamlined Medicaid eligibility and enrollment processes, but readiness varies considerably. Moreover, the technology problems that have hampered the launch of open enrollment through the new Marketplaces, particularly the federal Marketplace (HealthCare.gov), have led to delays in coordination across Medicaid, CHIP, and Marketplace coverage. However, even with these early implementation challenges, some states have been successfully enrolling people in Medicaid and several have gotten a significant jump-start through the facilitated enrollment strategies offered by CMS. In the coming months, work will continue to deploy new processes and systems to move toward the ACA’s vision of a simplified, consumer-friendly experience. As such, January 2014 will represent the first step toward a modernized, streamlined system to connect individuals to expanded coverage options as established through the ACA, but fully achieving that vision will require time, persistence, and a commitment to continual program improvement.