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Recession Swells Medicaid Rolls in 2009; One in Six Using the Program

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the extent to which the job and benefits loss of the recession has pushed individuals onto Medicaid, the government program to help the poor access health care. One in six Americans was using the program by the end of 2009. Enrollment increased 8.2 percent that year, with 3.7 million new people joining, the largest annual increase since the 1960s. In Nevada, enrollment climbed a whopping 22.4 percent, from 195,000 to 238,600. The report notes:

Although Medicaid enrollment growth may have peaked in the first half of 2009, enrollment increases during the recession continue to place additional strain on state budgets. This growth would likely have been much smaller, and many more Americans would likely have become uninsured, without the added federal support and maintenance of effort requirements provided through the 2009 fiscal stimulus, the financing portion of which has been extended to June 30, 2011. Financing and maintaining the program will continue to be a challenge for state and federal policymakers as they prepare for the Medicaid eligibility expansions beginning in 2014 under health reform and the 16 million new enrollees estimated to gain Medicaid coverage.

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