Earlier this morning a friend of mine in the radio business emailed me a couple of audio files (see above) which were sent to him by the North Dakota Department of Human Services. The files are ad spots promoting Medicaid enrollment that DHS wants aired, gratis.
“The state wants me to run free promos for the stupid Obamacare Medicaid expansion,” my friend told me in an email. “I’m not running them.”
The ads got me curious, so I asked DHS Public Information Officer LuWanna Lawrence for the latest info on enrollments through the Medicaid program, and I got back some surprising news. “Approximately 1,700 individuals are enrolled for coverage under the Medicaid Expansion, that took effect on January 1, 2014,” Lawrence told me in an email.
That’s…a really low number.
Consider that during the legislative session earlier this year it was estimated – by DHS – that the expansion would add another 30,000 people to Medicaid program, a 45% increase over the roughly 65,000 already enrolled. This created the perception that this expansion was badly needed by people who would qualify for it.
This low enrollment rate, coupled with DHS’ decision to begin running ads promoting enrollment, suggests that perhaps this expansion wasn’t as badly needed as we were told.
Score another victory for manufactured political crises.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple was one of the few Republican governors in the country to push for the Medicaid expansion. In hindsight, that’s beginning to look like a very big mistake.