Media ‘Spin’ Medicaid Enrollment Numbers as Obamacare Wins

New data released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) details that more than 3 million people have enrolled in Medicaid since October 2013, when Obamacare enrollment mandates took effect. Since the report's release on April 4, mainstream media have been using Medicaid statistics to tout Obamacare's success in helping individuals obtain health insurance. In reality, however, overall Medicaid enrollment has not increased by a relatively substantial amount. Furthermore, in some states such as Texas, enrollment rates have actually decreased.

Across the 48 states that reported data to the HHS, a total of 62.3 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as of March 1, 2014. This marks a 5.2 percent increase over the average monthly enrollment for July through September of 2013, according to the HHS report. 

"An increase of 5.2 percent isn't that significant," John Davidson, a senior health care policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told Breitbart Texas. He also mentioned that the increase in enrollment cannot necessarily be attributed to Obamacare since "over time, Medicaid enrollment has gradually increased" regardless of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA). 

Davidson said "the media is spinning the data" to make it seem as though the recent enrollment numbers are more significant than they actually are. "Notice how the media's headlines use the number '3 million' instead of the increase percentage," he added. 

Indeed, headlines like, "Medicaid enrollment jumps by 3 million under Obamacare" arguably portray the ACA to be more effective than a headline stating that enrollment has only increased by 5.2 percent.

The new data suggests that Obamacare unsurprisingly had a more significant impact on enrollment in states that chose to expand Medicaid. Such states saw an average 8.3 percent increase in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment since Obamacare's implementation. Some of these states saw much higher increases in enrollment: Oregon, 34.8 percent; Colorado, 22.8 percent; Vermont, 32.3 percent. 

States that did not choose to expand Medicaid, such as Texas, only saw an average 1.6 percent increase in enrollment since October. 

Nine states, including Texas, have seen a decrease in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment since Obamacare went into effect. Since October, Texas saw a (-0.4) percent increase in enrollment. HHS data claims that 4.25 million people are currently enrolled in the state, down from 4.44 million in September 2013. 

"The Texas legislature chose not to expand Medicaid…There has been strong opposition to Medicaid expansion in Texas, and that's undeniable," Davidson said. "Supporters of the ACA will say, 'If there's low enrollment in Texas, it's because political leaders have been obstructionists.' I don't buy that. People act in their best interest--if health insurance is important to someone, he or she will seek out a way to obtain it."

Texas Governor Rick Perry, along with the state legislature, chose not to expand Medicaid in order to foster an environment of limited government where businesses may flourish and create jobs.

"If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare," Perry said in July 2012. "I will not be party to socializing healthcare and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government."

Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate


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