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Report: States Making It Easier To Apply For Medicaid

Despite the reluctance of some Republican governors to expand Medicaid next year under the 2010 health law, most governors are making it easier for people to apply for coverage in the state-federal program for the poor, according to a study released today.

Residents of 37 states — four more than the year before — can now apply online for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And 28 states allow families to renew online, including eight states that added this capability in 2012.

These were among the findings of the annual survey of Medicaid programs by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation).

“Our survey shows that states already are making significant advances to modernize the Medicaid enrollment process in 2014 to lower barriers to coverage and reduce administrative burdens for both families and states,”  Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the foundation and the commission’s executive director, said in a statement.

When major provisions of the health law go into effect next January, all states will have to offer online enrollment in Medicaid. The law also requires all states to hire  “navigators”  later this year to help people sign up for coverage in new online health insurance marketpaces that will open in October. The KFF report found that 23 states currently pay community-based workers to help people sign up for Medicaid.

As many as 17 million people are expected to qualify for Medicaid if all states  expand the program to cover everyone with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $32,000 for a family of four. Even though the federal government is paying the full cost for newly eligible enrollees for the first three years and no less than 90 percent thereafter, Republican governors from states such as Florida and Texas say they may not go along with the expansion because of concerns about states’ share of the costs.