A pandemic-era policy under the Trump and Biden administrations has led to a sharp increase in the number of Texans now covered under Medicaid.
The number of Texans covered by the program — which provides health care to people with low incomes — grew to 5 million people as of October 2021, according to the latest data from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. That’s an increase of about 1.2 million from February 2020.
For the past two years, the COVID-19 public health emergency, a federal declaration that opens up funding, resources and emergency powers, has allowed Americans to keep their Medicaid coverage, even if they no longer meet their state’s requirements to stay in the program.
That’s been a major benefit to people in Texas, a state with some of the strictest eligibility requirements in the country and which has not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.
“Some of the largest increases in Medicaid enrollment have occurred in non-expansion states like Florida and Texas,” said Melissa McChesney, a health policy advisor at UnidosUS. “They typically have more opportunities for people to lose Medicaid. Texas is keeping them enrolled in a program that they would have otherwise become ineligible for.”