Record Number Enrolled in Medicaid

One in 6 Americans now in federal anti-poverty programs
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2010 10:59 AM CDT
Record Number Enrolled in Medicaid
The Medicaid rolls are packed.   (Shutterstock)

The recession has sent a record one in six Americans into federal anti-poverty programs, according to a new USA Today survey. More than 50 million are now enrolled in Medicaid, a number that has jumped 17% since the recession’s official start in December 2007. “Virtually every Medicaid director in the country would say that their current enrollment is the highest on record,” said one health pollster. And that doesn’t count the 16 million more who’ll enroll when the health care reform law takes effect in 2014.

The jump has been even bigger for food stamps, which now feed 40 million—a nearly 50% increase from 2007’s levels. Close to 10 million receive unemployment insurance. The increases come in part because the recession has put so many out of work, and in part because Congress has expanded the programs—particularly jobless benefits. Those increases come at a cost; Medicaid’s bill is up 36% over the past two years, while food stamp costs have risen 80%. Combined, all the government’s anti-poverty initiatives now cost more than Medicare. (More Medicaid stories.)

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