NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Medicaid Enrollment to Increase Substantially under Health Reform

October 24, 2011

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare, will have a profound impact on Medicaid patients.  It will make the program more expensive for states and worsen care for those who need it most by adding more people to a failing program, says Jonathan Ingram, a health care policy analyst with the Illinois Policy Institute.

  • For example, under ObamaCare, total Medicaid enrollment in Illinois will reach nearly 4.5 million people in 2019 -- three times the enrollment only a decade ago.
  • This expansion will cost Illinois $1.4 billion in the first year alone.
  • By 2019, Illinois will have spent $10 billion more on Medicaid than the state would have had ObamaCare not been implemented.

Illinois' Medicaid program already fails to serve those who need it most.  The state's long delays in paying providers have forced many doctors to make Medicaid patients wait longer, if they agree to see them at all.  If and when they receive care, they frequently suffer worse outcomes than even the uninsured.  With Illinois recently lengthening payment delays to record lengths, these problems will only get worse, says Ingram.

ObamaCare should immediately be repealed and replaced.  Reform should focus on consumers and leave states with the flexibility to design and manage Medicaid programs that fit the unique needs of their communities.

Through consumer-centric reform, coverage will be more affordable for families.  Pairing high-deductible health plans with medical savings accounts will help control costs for Medicaid patients as they have in the private sector.  These plans work by providing financial incentives for making wise choices about health care consumption.

Reducing the number of health care mandates will reduce the costs of insurance premiums, giving consumers greater choice and low-cost options that suit their families' needs.  Affordable coverage ultimately means that more people will participate in the private market, which ensures that the Medicaid program remains fiscally sustainable and that those most in need will have access to quality care.

Source: Jonathan Ingram, "Overloaded: One in Three Illinoisans on Medicaid by 2019?" Illinois Policy Institute, October 20, 2011.

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