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August 20, 2014

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Medicaid rolls in Nevada swell faster than expected under Obamacare

CARSON CITY — Lower-income Nevadans who previously qualified for Medicaid signed up for the program faster than expected as the requirement kicked in to obtain health insurance under Obamacare.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said today that in excess of 5,000 more people than expected enrolled by the end of last year.

The federal Affordable Care Act requires everyone to have health insurance.

Medicaid is a federal-state program to cover those who fall into the low-income category. Medicaid does not charge recipients a monthly premium.

The Legislature approved a recommendation by Gov. Brian Sandoval to expand Medicaid eligibility to adults ages 19-64 with household incomes up to 138 percent of the family poverty level — $19,530 for a family of three.

Department Director Mike Willden said the requirement under the Affordable Care Act “has spurred low-income Nevadans who may have qualified but never applied to seek coverage from Medicaid.”

The increase in applicants has resulted in longer waiting times for individuals to be enrolled, he said. It normally takes 30 days to process an application, but the wait has expanded to up to 45 days, he said.

To help with the increased workload, the Legislature approved filling 248 new positions by the end of February and an additional 162 workers by the end of the year. So far, 244 people have been hired.

“Although we anticipated increased growth, the activity has been more vigorous than we initially projected,” Willden said.

The agency originally projected to have 330,625 cases at the end of December, but the number was actually 336,195.

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, meanwhile, has signed up more than 6,500 people for insurance from one of four companies offering coverage that meet the ACA requirements.

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