How Many New Medicaid Enrollees? Biden Asked, but No Answer

By Susan Jones | January 24, 2014 | 7:38 AM EST

Vice President Joe Biden (AP File Photo)

( - How many people have signed up for Medicaid as a direct result of Obamacare? Vice President Joe Biden says he tried to find out -- but couldn't.

Speaking to a Families USA Conference on Thursday, Biden thanked the group for its support of the Affordable Care Act, despite its "rocky start."

He noted that enrollment is up, as 2.2 million Americans "have selected" plans through the health insurance exchanges.

"And I think you're going to see, with the release of figures at the end of this month, it's much higher than that. And based on new data released yesterday, more than 6.3 million Americans were determined eligible for Medicaid in the past three months.

"Now, to be fair, to be totally honest, not all these folks are new to the Medicaid program, because some already qualified before the passage of the act. But 6 million people. They can't -- I asked them to disaggregate how many would not have been covered but for (Obamacare).

"We don't have the ability to do that at this point," Biden said. "But they all have peace of mind that comes with high-quality health insurance."

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported on Wednesday that from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, state agencies determined that 6,323,188 individuals were  eligible for Medicaid or CHIP (Childrens Health Insurance Program) coverage.

But CMS also noted that Medicaid and CHIP are "longstanding programs" that were already enrolling eligible individuals before the new health exchanges opened. It does not know how many of those 6.3 million individuals were re-enrolling or were newly eligible because of Obamacare.

Beginning in January 2014 -- in states that agreed to expand their Medicaid programs -- low-income adults without children with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level are newly eligible for Medicaid.

On Thursday, Biden jabbed the 24 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act:

"As I said before, if the states that haven't acted would just act now, 5 million more would have access to affordable coverage. But as surprising as it may seem, after Republicans in the Congress have voted to repeal the law 40 times, they still haven't given up on their message. ...And I'm confident they're not going to get the message I'm about to deliver to them.

"But here's the message: We will not go back. We will not go back. America has turned a page. We will not go back to the days before the Affordable Care Act when pre-existing conditions were a barrier to coverage. We will not go back to the days when mental health was not covered. We will not go back to the days when women could pay as much as 150 percent more than a man for the same coverage. We will not kick three million young adults off their parent's policies. We will not go back to the days when patients lying in a hospital bed fighting for their lives are told that: Sorry, your coverage is over. We cannot cover you anymore. We will not go back. America will not go back."