Almost 10 million enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP during COVID-19 pandemic

CMS reports a boom in enrollment during the public health emergency.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that nearly 9.9 million Americans enrolled in coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) between February 2020 and January 2021.

According to a news release, this boom, which coincided with the bulk of the COVID-19 public health emergency, brings the total number of people enrolled in and receiving benefits to more than 80.5 million across the 50 states and the District of Columbia by the end of January 2021. About 50 percent of this total, 38.3 million were children enrolled in the two programs.

“The Biden-Harris administration is using every lever to ensure any American needing access to quality health coverage receives it,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra says in the release. “Now more than ever, people need the peace of mind of knowing that they have health coverage. This report reminds us what a critical program and rock Medicaid continues to be in giving tens of millions of children and adults access to care. This pandemic taught us that now more than ever, we must work to strengthen Medicaid and make it available whenever and wherever it’s needed using the unprecedented investments Congress provided.”

The agency attributes the increase in enrollment to the COVID-19 public health emergency and the enactment of part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which provided states with a temporary 6.2 percent payment increase Federal Medical Assistance Percentage funding, according to the release.

"Medicaid and CHIP serve as a much-needed lifeline for millions of people throughout this country,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure says in the release. “The increase we are seeing is exactly how Medicaid works: the program steps in to support people and their families when times are tough. For the parents that may have lost a job or had another life change during the pandemic, having access to coverage for themselves and their kids is life-changing. CMS is committed to ensuring our nation’s marginalized communities and low-income families have the coverage they need.”