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Report: Obama’s Medicaid expansion claims not even close

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Between 1.1 and 1.8 million people have enrolled in Medicaid as a result of Obamacare through December, according to advisory firm Avalere — a fraction of the 6 million President Obama claim in his State of the Union address.

“Because of the Affordable Care Act…more than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage,” the president declared in January.

At issue is a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which estimated that 6.3 million people had been determined eligible for Medicaid coverage between October and December.

The report was quickly seized upon by Democrats disappointed with tepid Obamacare enrollment numbers and became Obama’s talking point on the health care law’s success.

But CMS’s report counted many Americans who weren’t affected by Obamacare at all, including those that were renewing coverage they already had or people who signed up for the standard Medicaid version, not Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

To rid the number renewals or people likely to have enrolled anyway, Avalere’s analysis compared CMS’s enrollment data for the fall to rates from the Obamacare-free summer before. Their conclusion that somewhere between just 1.1 and 1.8 million people signed up due to the Affordable Care Act itself is far below the President’s claims.

Unsurprisingly, three quarters of those enrollments came from states that did accept the Medicaid expansion, just 26 states to date.

“On average, we have seen a 12 percent increase in Medicaid applications compared to the typical rates before ACA,” said Caroline Pearson, Avalere’s vice president, “with a higher uptick of 19 percent among expansion states.”

The study did take into account increased publicity for Medicaid generated by debates and advertising related to Obamacare. Anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 new enrollments in states that aren’t implementing the Medicaid expansion could be due to more awareness of the program.

Despite obvious problems with the CMS report, Obama had continued to tout Obamacare by citing the inflated numbers. During his Sunday interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, the president defended Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over the HealthCare.gov.

“We’ve got over six million people we’ve signed up for Medicaid,” Obama said.

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