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New Medicaid enrollment is far outpacing new insurance customers under Obamacare so far, a subtle sign that the program could play a greater role in the law’s coverage expansion than first anticipated. Some people are signing up for the Medicaid expansion created by the president’s health law. Others were already eligible for their state’s current Medicaid program, but until this outreach campaign about health coverage, they had never signed up.
In Washington state, for instance, the overwhelming number of people signing up for health coverage are eligible for Medicaid, state figures show. Of the 35,528 state residents who had signed up in the first three weeks of enrollment, 55 percent were part of the Medicaid expansion population, and 32 percent were eligible for the state’s existing Medicaid program. Only 13 percent signed up for a new private insurance plan.
In Kentucky, another state running its own exchange, 26,174 people had enrolled in new coverage as of Thursday. Four out of five had enrolled in Medicaid.
This is what those numbers are reflecting: The economy still stinks and far too many people are in low-wage, no-benefits jobs. Here's the second thing: People are desperately in need of having affordable health care coverage. They have been forever, because America's health care system has sucked so badly for so long.
That's the status quo Republicans have been clinging to, a failing system that left millions and millions out, and costs far more than it should for everyone else, with a handful of people making out pretty damned well, as usual. Here's a perfect illustration of that from Business Insider's Josh Barro: Sen. Ted Cruz's gold-plated, $40,000/year insurance plan, through his wife's employer, Goldman Sachs. In 2009, the Cruzes got about a $15,000 tax break on their insurance, since health insurance benefits are not taxable income. In 2010, Medicaid coverage for a family of four cost about $11,000. Yes, Ted Cruz's tax break would more than cover a family of four. Republicans have no problem with that idea, and that's part of what they want to preserve, never mind their newfound outrage over the unfairness of some people paying higher premiums so more people can have coverage.
This status quo is what Republican governors who refused Medicaid expansion are trying to maintain. This status quo is what every Republican effort to sabotage the law is trying to maintain. That Medicaid is surging in enrollments just highlights how much need exists in this country, and how destructive the Republican vision is.
Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 10:36 AM PDT.