New York’s Medicaid and Child Health Plus programs added three-quarters of a million enrollees during the coronavirus pandemic, roughly matching the pace of a national surge in sign-ups.

Between February 2020 and January 2021, the combined rolls of the two health plans grew by 760,000 New Yorkers, the second-largest total in the country, newly updated federal data show.

The state’s growth rate of 13 percent was lower than the national average of 14 percent—in part because New York’s pre-existing enrollment was proportionally high.  At the same time, the increase as a share of the state’s population, at 3.7 percent, was higher than the national average of 3.0 percent.

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

As of January, the two government-sponsored health plans for the low-income and disabled were covering just over one in three New York residents, the fourth-highest fraction in the country.

The nationwide enrollment surge appeared to be primarily driven by the pandemic-induced recession, which threw almost 2 million New Yorkers out of work and decimated the incomes of many more.

Another factor was a slowdown in Medicaid attrition. Before the pandemic, tens of thousands of people per month would drop off New York’s rolls for failing to re-register or otherwise losing eligibility. For the past year, however, states were required to suspend that process as a condition of receiving federal emergency relief. That suspension is expected to continue through at least the end of 2021.

Along with higher enrollment comes higher costs for what is already one of New York’s most expensive programs. This year’s state budget projects that the state share of Medicaid will spike by 22 percent or $5 billion. Total Medicaid spending, including federal aid and local contributions, is expected to increase by 10 percent or $8 billion.

Heading into the pandemic, New York spent more per capita on Medicaid than any other state—roughly double the national average—due to a combination of relatively broad eligibility, extensive benefits and high provider costs.

About the Author

Bill Hammond

As the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, Bill Hammond tracks fast-moving developments in New York’s massive health care industry, with a focus on how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect the well-being of patients, providers, taxpayers and the state’s economy.

Read more by Bill Hammond

You may also like

New York’s health benefits remain the second-costliest in the U.S.

New York's health benefit costs increased faster than the national average in 2020, leaving it with the second-least affordable coverage in the U.S. The state's average total cost f Read More

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

The Health Department’s FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York's coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week Read More

Health Research Inc. Turns Over its Payroll Records Despite Claiming To Be Exempt from FOIL

The full payroll records of more than 2,400 de facto state employees are available to the public for the first time after being released by Health Research Inc. Read More

Emergency Billions Pose Opportunity—and Risk—for NYS Schools

New York schools are to post publicly today plans for spending a huge pile of unexpected and unbudgeted cash. Read More

New York’s State Share of Medicaid Spending is Due to Jump 22 Percent This Fiscal Year

The state share of Medicaid spending is projected to jump 22 percent under the recently approved state budget, an unusually steep one-year jump for what is already one of New York's biggest expenditures. Read More

New York’s Hospital Industry Ranks Near the Bottom of Two Quality Report Cards

New York's hospitals remain near the bottom of two quality report cards. The state's hospitals received the lowest rate of any state except Nevada and DC. Read More

New York’s ‘Bluest’ Counties Have the Lowest COVID Vaccination Rates for Older Residents

New York's bluest counties are posting the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates for older residents, a striking contrast with the pattern in the U.S. as a whole. The disparity appea Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!