“The Impact of the COVID-19 Recession on Medicaid Coverage and Spending”

The Impact of the COVID-19 Recession on Medicaid Coverage and Spending,” by Elizabeth Williams and Robin Rudowitz, Kaiser Family Foundation



“Unlike previous recessions in modern history, this past recession was spurred by the spread of a virus (COVID-19), which created a public health crisis with unique health implications. Understanding the impact past recessions have had on Medicaid programs, early in the pandemic we began tracking employment and state revenue indicators, which can signal changes to Medicaid enrollment and have implications for state budgets. Medicaid is a counter-cyclical program, meaning that more people become eligible and enroll during economic downturns; at the same time, states may face declines in revenues that make it difficult to fund the state share of funding for the program. However, the pandemic-induced recession looked different from historical recessions in a number of ways. This brief describes the broader impacts of this most recent recession — which lasted from February 2020 to April 2020 — and also explores how trends in Medicaid spending and enrollment differed from past recessions and what that might mean for state Medicaid programs moving forward. Key differences between the Great Recession and the COVID-19 recession are highlighted in Table 1.”


LTC Comment, Stephen A. Moses, President, Center for Long-Term Care Reform:

The big difference between the Covid recession and all earlier ones, which of course KFF didn’t notice, is that the Fed printed and the Treasury distributed gigantic sums of money which swelled state coffers resulting in more wasteful spending and enabled millions not to work or produce. We’re paying the price now. It’s called inflation.