The Bulletin

More than 270,000 people enrolled in Medicaid through expansion so far

By: - May 15, 2019 11:45 pm

State social services workers signed up homeless residents for Medicaid at a resource fair in Richmond in early November. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

Virginia has seen 272,527 adults enroll in Medicaid under the state’s expansion of the program, surpassing even its own expectations.

The state estimated that fewer than 200,000 adults would be enrolled in coverage from January to June of this year, according to a report by Freddy Mejia of the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.

Virginia’s Medicaid agency operates an expansion dashboard that regularly updates with the number of newly-enrolled adults. As of May 3, nearly 100,000 of the new enrollees were parents, and 45 percent were between the ages of 19 and 34 years old.

At 61 percent, women made up the vast majority of those who have enrolled so far, too, while nearly 200,000 of the enrollees earned below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, or $20,780 for a family of three.

But looming over the state’s enrollment numbers are coming work requirements. The state submitted a waiver to the federal government, seeking permission to institute work requirements for its Medicaid members and expects approval by the end of the summer.

In his analysis, Mejia noted that many of those who have been enrolled in Medicaid so far are parents. When parents sign up for insurance, their children are more likely to be signed up, too. But he added that the opposite is also true: When parents lose coverage, their children often go uninsured as well.

“As Virginia awaits federal permission to impose work reporting requirements and additional costs on some parents who receive Medicaid, it is important to consider the ways that pushing adults off health insurance may also harm Virginia’s children,” Mejia wrote.

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Katie O'Connor
Katie O'Connor

Katie, a Manassas native, has covered health care, commercial real estate, law, agriculture and tourism for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond BizSense and the Northern Virginia Daily. Last year, she was named an Association of Health Care Journalists Regional Health Journalism Fellow, a program to aid journalists in making national health stories local and using data in their reporting. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was executive editor of The Flat Hat, the college paper, and editor-in-chief of The Gallery, the college’s literary magazine.