(The Center Square) – The United States will have 100 million residents on Medicaid in the next 72 days, according to the Foundation for Government Accountability, meaning that nearly one-third of all Americans will be on the program for health care.
Over the past three years, states have been prevented from removing recipients from the program through a federal COVID-19 emergency. Now, the date when states can begin to re-registering recipients when that emergency ends on April 1.
Federal matching funds for the additional recipients will discontinue on that date, Tennessee’s program Director Stephen Smith said at a recent program budget hearing. He said that his department has to have surplus funds on hand to cover recipients as the department begins what will be called a redetermination of benefits that is projected to cut enrollment from its peak of 1.7 million recipients in Tennessee back to the 1.4 million mark before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For years, FGA has been warning about the rising number of people on government welfare programs. Now, we’re nearing a grim milestone—nearly one-third of the country will be on Medicaid,” said FGA Data and Analytics Director Hayden Dublois,. “Our research and data show as welfare enrollment increases, workforce participation decreases. We’re in the midst of a nationwide workforce crisis, yet the Biden administration is pushing policies to entice people into government dependency at record levels while limiting opportunities to achieve the American Dream.”
FGA says that the emergency declaration has led to 24 million enrollees in Medicaid nationwide, with more than 21 million of which would not have qualified for the program under previous standards.
“The pandemic-era policy keeping more than 21 million ineligible enrollees on Medicaid is costing taxpayers more than $16 billion per month. Despite the recently enacted legislation allowing states to redetermine eligibility beginning in April, the Biden administration is slow walking the process and hoping states will be sluggish to act,” Dublois said. “In approximately 76 days, 100 million people will be on Medicaid. States should begin preparing now so that they can remove the millions of ineligible enrollees and reclaim program integrity as quickly as possible.”
California alone has nearly 15 million Medicaid recipients at of Aug. 31 with the most recently reported data showing 96.2 million recipients receiving Medicaid benefits. FGA predicts that number will reach nearly 99 million in January.
New York has a reported 7.6 million recipients while Texas and Florida have 5.6 million enrollees in the most recently available data.
Smith explained that, in Tennessee, it will take time to redetermine eligibility for TennCare recipients.
“We don’t just snap our fingers and go back to normal,” Smith said. “That means that the cost of serving these individuals won’t just shut off in June.
“Unfortunately, as we’ve discussed many times, Congress acted and appropriated additional federal matching dollars to states, so we’re drawing down more federal dollars to assist with the increased cost tied to the enrollment growth.”