Medicaid Enrollment Declines for the First Time in More Than a Decade

The booming U.S. economy appears to be reducing dependence on federal health insurance for the poor.

Medicaid enrollment fell for the first time since 2007, declining by about 0.6 percent in fiscal year 2018, and states don’t expect to see much growth in enrollment next year, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Thursday.

States are budgeting for a “minimal” increase of 0.9 percent in 2019, Kaiser said in its annual 50-state survey of Medicaid.

“States largely attribute the enrollment slowdown to a strengthening economy, resulting in fewer new low-income people qualifying for Medicaid,” said Kaiser, a nonprofit group that focuses on health care and health policy.

Federal and state Medicaid spending still grew despite the drop in enrollment. Combined federal and state spending rose by 4.2 percent in fiscal 2018, similar to the previous year’s increase, Kaiser said. States expect a 5.3 percent jump in spending for 2019.