Illinois: New Medicaid enrollments hit 315K, watchdog group thinks this is a bad thing

Hat Tip To: 

This is an interesting example of the fundamental philosophical difference between those who support the ACA and those who oppose it (well, those who oppose it from the Right, anyway; some people oppose it from the Left because they'd prefer Single Payer, Public Option, etc.).

It seems that Illinois has seen Medicaid enrollments shoot up quite a bit more than expected since ACA Expansion officially went into effect on January 1st. This appears to be primarily due to the "woodworker effect", which the article, as a bonus, breaks out specifically: 200K Strict Expansion + 115,000 Woodworkers:

Illinois has added 315,000 people to Medicaid since Jan. 1. Here’s a breakdown:

  • 36,000 people were enrolled when they applied for food stamps
  • 93,000 people were added through a special County Care program in Cook County
  • 104,000 people have been added through the state’s Obamacare exchange
  • 82,000 have been added through the federal Obamacare website,

“That’s 315,000 right now. We thought we’re going to be at 200,000 this year,” Hamos said.

State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Rochelle, knew Illinois would see a flood of people enroll in Medicaid, but these numbers surprise even him.

“We saw (numbers) from outside organizations to expect well over 500,000 people, maybe as many as 750,000 people,” Demmer told Illinois Watchdog.

But it’s not just the overwhelming that worry Republicans like Demmer.

The federal government has promised to pay all of the costs for newly eligible Medicaid enrollees, mostly young men who live close to the poverty line.

Illinois has plenty of those, but what about the rest? The other 115,000 or so, Hamos said, are either in the system or will soon enroll, potentially costing Illinois taxpayers hundreds of millions.

The Medicaid spreadsheet lists 77,744 Medicaid enrollees via the January CMS report. I'm not sure whether these are already included in the above numbers or not (presumably as part of the 104,000 "state exchange" number), but am assuming that it is until I learn otherwise. I'm subtracting the 77.7K from the 104K, giving 2 numbers on the spreadsheet: 108,256 and another 129,000 for the Special Transfers.

The interesting thing politically here is that the article is written from an anti-ACA perspective; they're of the mind that a huge spike in new Medicaid enrollments is a bad thing, due to the impact on the state budget (the Federal Government is footing the bill for strict expansion enrollees, but woodworker additions are added under existing Medicaid funding for that state--which in the case of Illinois is about 50%).

In other words, as Ruth37 has written about prevoiusly, there are two reasons why certain states opposed Medicaid expansion: One is ideological, but the other is budget-related. Even if their state doesn't have to cover any strict-expansion enrollees, they still have to cover a portion of woodworkers who sign up as an indirect result of the ACA-driven Medicaid outreach effort.

Basically, these states don't want people to enroll in Medicaid even if they already qualify to do so, since that would cause budget/funding headaches.

This reminds me of the old joke about the doctor who said that he hated working in hospitals because they're filled with sick people!