With Medicaid health insurance taking on a bigger role under the Affordable Care Act, some hospitals and states are working extra hard to get qualified patients enrolled in their program.

That's a smart move because the quicker Medicaid-sponsored care kicks in, the less likely a patient is going to skip that follow-up appointment or diagnostic test after a visit to the emergency department.

And almost everyone by now knows that skipped follow-up care can contribute to such things as reduced population health in the long term and return visits and readmissions in the near term.

A problem with Medicaid programs is that getting officially enrolled as a member can take weeks, well after the time when follow-up care may be needed. To address that problem, some states, like Maryland, are making use of a provision in the ACA and allowing select providers to give patients temporary enrollment status in Medicaid.

Following rules of presumptive eligibility that were expanded by the ACA, hospitals like Anne Arundel Medical Center can get patients enrolled in about two days. "It clears a path for the patient to get care outside the walls of the hospital," says Jackie Powers, director of patient financial services for the medical center.

"It impacts individuals who have been admitted to the hospital for care and will potentially need things when they go home, like prescriptions or maybe an appointment with a specialist," Powers says. Under the new rules, the timing for getting that coverage is almost immediate.

Anne Arundel financial advocates already had been versed in assisting patients with enrolling in Medicaid, and had to undergo state-mandated training in the expedited enrollment program. The medical center was ready to hit the ground running with enrolling patients soon after Oct. 1, Powers says.

Anne Arundel has enrolled about 120 patients in the first 30 days and hopes to enroll them at an even faster rate looking ahead as it reaches out to other areas of the hospital.

"We’ve invested in this program to help our community (members) in getting the health care that they need," says Bob Reilly, chief financial officer for Anne Arundel.