Medicaid suffers from its own success


Many Medicaid expansion states are facing problems, including a backlog of enrollees who can't get their applications processed.

The United States has about 3 million new Medicaid enrollees, but hundreds of thousands of those consumers, particularly in New Jersey, Illinois and California, are still unable to obtain coverage, ProPublica reported.

The federal health insurance exchange website, which has faced its own spate of technical glitches and backlogs, caused some of the Medicaid problems. is supposed to transfer data about potentially Medicaid-eligible consumers to states, but the website was using a format some states couldn't use.

And last month, was reporting incorrect poverty-level guidelines while automatically telling thousands of individuals they didn't qualify for subsidized insurance, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

States have seen their share of issues crop up. Illinois, for example, has more than 200,000 people waiting to have their applications processed so they can obtain Medicaid coverage. Illinois officials estimated about 200,000 total people would sign up for the expanded program; instead, more than 400,000 consumers have enrolled so far.

Similarly, New Jersey's Medicaid is still processing parts of new enrollees' applications, including ID cards. Many people have flooded the application process, causing a systemwide backlog. 

Meanwhile, about 800,000 people are waiting for California's Medicaid program to complete their applications. A high volume of Medi-Cal applications coupled with computer system challenges has delayed the completion of eligibility reviews.

States are under pressure to fix their enrollment problems. "It's been the number one issue of concern for our members for the past nine months or so," Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, told ProPublica. "The problems are getting fixed, but what worries people is that we're only a few months away from NEXT year's open enrollment, so we have to hurry."

To learn more:
- read the ProPublica article

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