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States Can Use Existing Information to Reduce Number of Uninsured

April 14, 2016 at 2:00 PM

More than 1.8 million uninsured people eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are in families participating in SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), new data from the Urban Institute show.  That’s more than 20 percent of the 9.1 million non-elderly uninsured Americans who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.  As we’ve explained, states can make it easy for these SNAP participants to enroll in Medicaid by relying on information that participants have already provided and that the states have verified.

SNAP and Medicaid count income and determine who is in a household in different ways, but the overwhelming majority of SNAP participants live in households with incomes below Medicaid’s limit of 138 percent of the poverty line.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has given states several options to enroll SNAP participants in Medicaid using the information participants have already provided to qualify for SNAP.  While the details of these options vary, they generally allow states to identify SNAP participants who qualify for Medicaid, contact them to see if they want to enroll in Medicaid, and process their eligibility determinations without requiring program staff to re-verify their income.

States that rely on SNAP participation to determine Medicaid eligibility can feel secure that only eligible people will be enrolled, because SNAP rigorously verifies household income and has an extensive quality control system.

Seven states — Arkansas, California, Illinois, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, and West Virginia — have used this strategy to enroll more than 725,000 people in Medicaid since 2014.  Other states should take advantage of the options that CMS has offered, which would enable them to enroll more of their eligible residents in health coverage with minimal additional work.


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