2020 OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS (most states)

Time: D H M S

Time to check in on Virginia Medicaid expansion...

With all the attention being paid to the midterm elections causing ACA Medicaid expansion to be passed in Utah, Nebraska and Idaho (while also now being at risk in Alaska and Montana), I've kind of lost track of the situation in Virginia, where it was expanded last May to over 400,000 Virginians.

Thankfully, Esther F. linked me to this article from the Virginia Mercury, which brings me up to speed on the actual implementation of the VA expansion program:

Less than two weeks after Virginia opened registration for its expanded Medicaid program, officials say they’ve already drawn thousands more applicants than initially anticipated.

The state had expected the new program to enroll 300,000 over the next year and a half. They now expect that number to reach 375,000. The new estimates won’t alter the total expansion population, which the state has said will be about 400,000.

Officials attributed the increase to automatic enrollment of residents who are already signed up for other social benefit programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

...He said the state now expects that 256,000 people will be enrolled by Jan. 1, when the coverage goes into effect.

This is actually...not at all surprising. Most other states which have expanded Medicaid have found not only that there are more residents eligible than they expected, but that more of those eligible signed up more quickly than expected. It's almost as though having healthcare coverage is important to most folks...

The end of the article also perfectly encapsulates the basic philosophical difference between Republicans and Democrats:

...“What the state was sold was not what was billed,” said Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, who said he remains concerned the state will end up on the hook, citing a “potentially pretty large fiscal impact.”

Backers of expansion said they’re excited.

“We’ll figure the money out,” said Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, “If we get more people covered, that’s going to mean more peoples’ lives are improved. In the long run, we’re better off.”

Mic drop.

As an aside: Speaking of "fiscal impact", I should note that while other types of #ACASabotage by the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans are causing unsubsidized Virginia premiums to be around $90/month higher than they would be otherwise, expanding Medicaid actually caused 2019 premiums to drop by around 2.2 percentage points. That's roughly $15/month or $180/year.

There were roughly 226,000 unsubsidized Virginians enrolled in ACA-compliant individual market policies last spring. Assuming flat enrollment year over year, that amounts to roughly $40 million in savings per year for those folks. That's $40 million which can go towards other purposes...most of which will presumably be spent within the state of Virginia.