But the health-care law’s Medicaid expansion played a bigger role in extending health coverage – and is now enrollment is surging amid the coronavirus pandemic. Coverage for Americans enrolled in this program is also threatened by the lawsuit, a detail getting far less attention on the campaign trail.
Nearly 4 million more people enrolled in the health insurance program for the low income between February and June.
Medicaid enrollment grew 6.2 percent over the spring and early summer, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported this week.
It’s an abrupt reversal of the direction enrollment had previously been moving as it trended downward over the last several years. Yet the surge isn’t terribly surprising, given the nation’s widespread job losses during the first wave of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. More than one in five Americans – about 75 million – now rely on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program for their coverage.
Many states have seen double-digit percentage increases in their Medicaid enrollment during the pandemic.
In Nebraska, enrollment climbed from fewer than 644,000 in February to about 731,000 through August, my colleague Amy Goldstein reported.
“That 13.5 percent increase places Nevada among at least three states, along with Kentucky and Minnesota, where the cadre of people on Medicaid has spiked that much,” Amy wrote. “But increases are widespread: Caseloads had risen on average 8.4 percent through July in 30 states for which researchers have enrollment information. And in 14 states with enrollment data through August, the average is 10 percent.”
Around 15 million of Medicaid enrollees nationwide are eligible for the program because of the Affordable Care Act, which gave states dollars to expand their programs to earners up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
The outcome of the ACA lawsuit could affect their coverage.
Just days after the election, the court is scheduled to hear a lawsuit challenging the ACA’s constitutionality. The confirmation of conservative nominee Amy Coney Barrett – a process the Senate is embarking upon in 10 days – could increase the court’s chances of knocking down some or all of the 2010 health care law.
Some ACA advocates have noted the much broader impact of tossing out the health care law, beyond those with preexisting conditions.
Charles Gaba, an ACA analyst, has been tweeting out how many people in each state could get kicked off Medicaid expansion:
It’s understandable why Democrats are focusing on the preexisting condition protections over Medicaid expansion.
Preexisting condition protections are especially popular, with 72 percent of Americans saying it’s “very important” they stay in place.
And were the court to toss out any part of the ACA, the preexisting condition protections would be the first to go. It’s harder to imagine the court ruling that the entire law including its Medicaid expansion must fall.
Still, rarely does presidential nominee Joe Biden speak without mentioning preexisting conditions, and the phrase shows up constantly in Democrats’ campaign ads and speeches.
“We’ll show America which party stands