American Medical News turned to Manatt's Melinda Dutton, a partner in the firm's Healthcare Division, for insight into the "woodwork population," the millions who are already eligible to sign up for Medicaid and may do so for the first time when the Affordable Care Act's coverage expansions and tax penalty mandate are implemented.
As reported by American Medical News, there is an expectation that current Medicaid eligibles will enroll in the program for the first time in 2014, despite having already been qualified. Referred to as "coming out of the woodwork," some individuals may sign up because the coverage mandate will apply to them, while others may discover for the first time that public health assistance is available.
Dutton said many are realizing that covering these current eligibles—who in general are poorer and sicker than those who would be covered under the expansion—will be advantageous to their budgets in the long run.
"People are going to get sick and show up in hospitals and clinics and emergency departments," which means significant amounts of uncompensated care dollars will come from state coffers, said Dutton. That's why expansion is an attractive option for states, as is greater enrollment of those who are currently eligible.
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