It's a concrete reminder of just how bad the economy continues to be for far too many and how great need is, but it's also a signal of Obamacare's success: Washington state's Medicaid enrollments under expanded Medicaid have blown past projections.
By early last week, enrollments for adults newly eligible for Medicaid as a result of the Affordable Care Act had shot past 268,000 — a milepost equal to more than a quarter of the state’s 900,000 uninsured.That number is going to go up, because Medicaid enrollment is open year-round. State officials didn't expect to see a quarter of a million new adult Medicaid enrollees until 2018. They also say they underestimated the "pent-up demand" for health care in their state. Washington has been one of the states that's worked particularly hard to make Obamacare work, so the Medicaid expansion experience there is probably not going to be prescriptive for all the states. But we can still expect to see similar Medicaid response in the states that have taken the expansion.
As of April 1, the Medicaid enrollments include 10,047 newly eligible adults getting free care on federally subsidized Medicaid in Thurston County and another 29,356 in Pierce County. […]
Another 135,485 residents had signed up for Medicaid through the exchange under old eligibility rules that had stricter income limits. Altogether, more than 400,000 Washington residents are now getting coverage under Medicaid who likely did not receive it before the Washington Health Benefit Exchange opened its online portal for sign-ups Oct. 1.
That pent-up demand, however, exists in all of the states: there's nowhere in this country where tight budgets haven't forced people to decide between the basic necessities of life or the luxury of health insurance. That should make Medicaid expansion a salient issue for 2014.