Nevada Medicaid surges nearly 118,000 from year ago

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Enrollment in Nevada’s Medicaid program has grown by a third during the past year, with more than half of the new enrollees becoming eligible under the federal health care reform law, state officials said Friday.

Figures released by the Department of Health and Human Services show Nevada’s Medicaid caseload was 434,819 people as of March 31, an increase of 33,000 from the month before and 117,635 over March 2013.

Included in that year-over-year increase are about 64,000 people who qualified for Medicaid for the first time as of Jan. 1, when Nevada expanded eligibility to include childless adults with an income of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. For a single adult that amounts to about $16,000 a year.

States were given the option to increase eligibility for Medicaid under President Obama’s health care law.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, agreed to the expansion to help more people gain access to health care in Nevada, a state that had an estimated uninsured population of 642,000 before the law took effect.

When the current fiscal year began July 1, Nevada had 320,000 enrolled in Medicaid.

The Division of Welfare and Supportive Services currently has a backlog of 66,000 applications waiting processing.

“As a result of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid application processing numbers are at record highs,” the division said Friday in a statement.

Before the law, the agency processed an average of 550 applications a day. It is now averaging 1,200 daily, though it processed a record 2,300 in a single day.

“We have enrolled more than 104,000 people in Medicaid in the last six months, which is an unprecedented number,” the agency said.

Because of the backlog, the agency is sending confirmation letters to people advising them that their applications have been received and a case worker will contact them for any additional information needed to make a determination of eligibility.

The budget approved by Nevada lawmakers in 2013 funded 400 new positions for the agency in anticipation of the caseload growth. About 260 have been hired, with the rest not authorized until the next fiscal year. Administrators have said it may need to speed up hiring to keep up with demands.


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