Policy & Research


Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Growth During the COVID-19 Pandemic (April 2021)

By Phillip Steiner, M.A., Wen-Chieh Lin, Ph.D. | April 29, 2021

Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Growth During the COVID-19 Pandemic (April 2021)


Enrollment in KanCare has risen since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Data suggest that this increase in enrollment has been driven primarily by the state’s decision, in response to federal incentives, to continue eligibility for KanCare enrollees throughout the pandemic. However, even with the increase in enrollment, this continuing coverage policy has reduced overall state KanCare costs due to an increase in the federal match rate. This issue brief provides an overview of how the COVID-19 pandemic and related policy response has affected enrollment in KanCare and how it may continue to do so in the future.

Key points from the brief include:

  • In anticipation of the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress implemented incentives to states to maintain enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP.
  • A continuing coverage policy implemented by KDHE in response to federal incentives resulted in fewer members being disenrolled during the pandemic. In 2020, about 26,900 KanCare members disenrolled, less than one-third of the 90,750 on average who disenrolled during the same time in 2018 and 2019.
  • KanCare enrollment increased 13.3 percent (53,887 enrollees) from February to December 2020.
  • The continuing coverage policy qualified Kansas for an increase in the federal match rate. As a result, the state share of Medicaid expenditures decreased by approximately $153.2 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020. These savings are expected to continue in FY 2021.
  • The long-term effects of the increase in enrollment on the KanCare program and state budget are less certain. Once the public health emergency ends, annual reviews will resume for tens of thousands of KanCare enrollees while the additional federal financial support for maintaining their enrollment ends.

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.