Report finds Medicaid use rising, but cost falling in Erie County

Nov 12, 2015

A report released Thursday by the Erie County Medicaid Inspector General’s Office shows a rise in Medicaid enrollment in Erie County under the Affordable Care Act.

More than 28 percent of Erie County residents’ health insurance are now provided by Medicaid. County Executive Mark Poloncarz says those numbers are on the rise.

Credit Erie County Executive's Office

“The patient protection in the Affordable Care Act, or otherwise known as Obamacare, created an expansion of Medicaid. So what you often have is families that previously would not have qualified for Medicaid now eligible for Medicaid and under the New York State Exchange are actually receiving Medicaid as their healthcare provider if their employer does not provide healthcare or if they’re self-employed,” said Poloncarz.

More young people are signing up for Medicaid, according to the report.

“More than one-third of the individuals on Medicaid are under 21,” said Poloncarz. “It’s a good thing from the standpoint of we want our children to be covered, we want them to have healthcare. But it’s kind of a scary thing too, because it means there are a lot of children who live in homes that are either just above the poverty level or live at it or below.”

While the cost of Medicaid has risen since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the county is paying much less as the federal government picks up more of the tab. Poloncarz says Medicaid is the single largest line in Erie County's budget, but the county’s portion of Medicaid costs has fallen more than $8.4 million since 2012.

The report also finds an increase in the number of white recipients enrolled for Medicaid, with those aged 21-64 enrolling at nearly five times the rate of the black and hispanic communities. White individuals also account for the highest average cost per Medicaid client.