2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Louisiana: ACA Medicaid expansion breaks 220,000

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that Louisiana had seen jaw-dropping success with their ACA Medicaid expansion launch, enrolling over 175,000 people in the program in the first 12 hours of the floodgates opening. It later turned out that there was a reason for this astonishing figure: 

1. Virtually all of those enrolled as of yesterday, a total of 189,000 by day's end, were transfers from existing limited-benefit public plans. These include 132,000 enrollees in Take Charge Plus, a program focused mainly on family planning, along with a few free office visits; and 56,000 from the Greater New Orleans Health Connection (GNOHC), a no-cost primary care program for low income people in the greater New Orleans area. GNOHC does not provide drug or hospital coverage.

...which is perfectly fine as well; it still lifts a huge financial burden off of the state while streamlining and consolidating enrollees into the larger Medicaid program itself.

Anyway, the other day there was another update on how things have gone since then:

Louisiana Department of Health officials had enrolled more than 220,000 people into the state's Medicaid expansion as of 9 a.m. Wednesday (June 22), with 9,000 of those people coming from the food stamp rolls.

About 105,000 people receiving food stamp benefits were sent letters asking them to respond to four questions about whether they wanted to be enrolled in Medicaid. But with less than 10 percent of people responding so far, there may need to be a new push to find food stamp recipients who are eligible and not yet enrolled, said Ruth Kennedy, who is leading Medicaid expansion enrollment.

...But Kennedy said she's not concerned about SNAP beneficiaries not getting in touch with the state very quickly. The department is still signing up people for Medicaid at a rate of about 2,500 people per day.

The concensus seems to be that there's around 375,000 Louisianans eligible for the expansion program, so this is roughly 59% of the total in the first 3 weeks, which is excellent even if the rate has obviously tapered off. If you subtract the 188,000 who were auto-transferred, that leaves 9,000 who enrolled after being contacted via their food stamp status and another 23,000 more who appear to have found out about their eligibility via other methods and have signed up.

If that 2,500/day rate keeps up, they'd theoretically hit the 375K cap in 62 days, or around Labor Day. Obviously that's unlikely to happen, as there will always be some folks who simply aren't reached (plus, the 375K estimate could be off one way or the other). Still, this is a fantastic start for the program; kudos to LA Governor Edwards for making it happen.