Washington, D.C. – Beginning Saturday, April will mark the fifth annual Medicaid Awareness Month, and there has never been a better time to raise awareness about Medicaid’s importance for communities across the nation. A record 92 million Americans are enrolled in Medicaid, providing affordable, quality health care to people from all backgrounds, including children, mothers, people of color, people with disabilities, rural Americans, and seniors.
Medicaid Awareness Month comes as Republicans in Congress are seeking serious cuts to the program and proposing bureaucratic work reporting requirements while GOP leaders in 10 states have failed to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, blocking millions of families from affordable coverage. President Biden and Democrats in Congress, on the other hand, are working to strengthen Medicaid for years to come.
Congress passed legislation at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect access to Medicaid by ensuring no one could lose their coverage during the public health emergency. This provision, which has helped secure the lowest level of uninsured Americans ever, is set to expire on April 1. As states begin to redetermine who is eligible for Medicaid, an estimated 15 million people are vulnerable to losing coverage, disproportionately affecting people of color and children.
Throughout the month of April, Protect Our Care will release reports, publish fact sheets, and host events nationwide with elected officials, storytellers, and health care advocates. These activities will highlight Medicaid’s critical role in America, underscore what needs to be done to expand and strengthen the program, and make clear the dire consequences of Republican threats.
To mark the start of Medicaid Awareness Month, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:
“This month is a critical reminder that Medicaid is working for people in America. Regardless of who you are or where you live, you or someone you love has almost certainly benefited from Medicaid. And with more Americans relying on Medicaid coverage than ever before, it is essential that lawmakers fight to protect people with Medicaid coverage from Republican attacks. As they continue to block Medicaid expansion in 10 remaining states and pursue reckless cuts to Medicaid, Republicans continue to play politics with people’s lives.”
The month will include the following themes each week:
- Week 1: Republican threats to Medicaid. Week one will focus on how Republicans are actively seeking cuts to Medicaid while GOP leaders in 10 states continue to block Medicaid expansion.
- Week 2: Medicaid helps women and kids. Week two will bring attention to the vital role of Medicaid for mothers and children across the country.
- Week 3: Medicaid helps people of color and rural Americans. Week three will highlight how Medicaid is a critical tool to expand access to coverage, which together with policies that address other social and structural determinants of health, narrow stark disparities in health care, improve families’ financial security, and make people healthier.
- Week 4: Medicaid helps seniors and people with disabilities. The final week will focus on how Medicaid helps seniors and people with disabilities access lifesaving care.
Over 2 Million People Are Stuck In The Medicaid Coverage Gap. Prior to North Carolina voting to expand Medicaid earlier this month, 2.1 million people were stuck in the Medicaid coverage gap. These people are too poor to qualify for the Affordable Care Act marketplace subsidies but are ineligible for Medicaid due to their state’s failure to expand the program. North Carolina’s expansion allowed nearly 180,000 people to gain coverage and no longer be stuck in the gap.
Almost Half Of Births Are Covered By Medicaid. Medicaid covers nearly 20,000,000 women of reproductive age, giving them access to reproductive health care services such as birth control, cancer screenings, and maternity care without cost-sharing. Over 40 percent of births in the United States were covered by Medicaid in 2022. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, states were given the option to extend coverage to new mothers for one year postpartum, which improves maternal health outcomes. Congress subsequently made this option permanent as part of end-of-year legislation signed into law at the end of 2022. So far, 29 states have elected to extend postpartum coverage.
Over 50 Percent Of American Children Are Enrolled In Medicaid And CHIP. Over 40 million children in the United States are enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP. Medicaid eligibility during childhood lowers the high school dropout rate, raises college enrollment, and increases four-year college attainment. Medicaid for children also has a positive impact on employment opportunities later in life. For each additional year of Medicaid eligibility as a child, adults by age 28 had higher earnings and made $533 additional cumulative tax payments due to their higher incomes.
Reduced Racial Disparities In Coverage. Increasing Medicaid access is the single most important action available to expand coverage and address access to quality care as a driver of health. This together with other actions to address other social and structural determinants of health can reduce racial disparities in the American health care system. The majority of Americans who would gain coverage if the remaining 10 holdout states expanded Medicaid are people of color. The ACA led to historic reductions in racial disparities in access to health care, but racial gaps in insurance coverage narrowed the most in states that adopted Medicaid expansion. States that expanded their Medicaid programs saw a 51 percent reduction in the gap between uninsured white an Black adults after expansion, and a 45 percent reduction between white and Hispanic adults.
Millions Of Rural Americans Depend On Medicaid. Nearly 14 million Medicaid enrollees reside in rural areas. Uninsurance rates in rural America are 2-3 percentage points higher than in urban areas. States that expanded Medicaid experienced a 7 point increase in insured rates after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Medicaid Helps Seniors And Older Americans Stay Retired And Out Of Poverty. Many seniors and older Americans survive off of low incomes or have chronic health conditions that prohibit them from working. Medicaid allows these individuals living on fixed incomes and often have chronic diseases to continue getting the care they need by filling in the gaps in their Medicare coverage without having to worry about choosing between food and housing or their health. Medicaid has long been considered one of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the nation, and its expansion has significantly improved health outcomes for seniors and older adults.