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January 2016 St@teside

More Evidence Supports Medicaid Expansion

As more states expand (or consider expanding) Medicaid, evidence continues to mount to support the positive effects of making this coverage available. A recent brief, prepared by GMMB and Manatt Health Solutions with support from the State Health Reform Assistance Network, presents a set of facts from states that have expanded Medicaid, including information on the budget impact, effect on hospitals and low-income, working adults, and more. With regard to budgets and state economies, data support both savings and revenue gains as well as job growth in states that have expanded. In addition, expanding Medicaid reduces uncompensated care costs and helps to stabilize rural and safety net hospitals.

Further, as uninsured rates have gone down significantly, access to primary and preventive care services has increased and overall health has improved. For instance, a recent New England Journal of Medicine study shows that coverage expansion in Arizona, Maine, and New York has led to a reduction in mortality of 6.1 percent.

Research published this month in Health Affairs supports the success of Medicaid expansion in states that chose to do so. Examining one state that expanded using a “private option” (Arkansas) and one that had a “traditional” expansion (Kentucky), a study led by Benjamin D. Sommers of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that “both approaches improved access [to care] among low-income adults” compared to a non-expansion state (Texas). Another study led by Sayeh Nikpay of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine shows a sharp decrease in uninsured hospital stays in the first part of 2014 for states that expanded Medicaid.

Now with President Obama proposing in his budget to allow 100 percent federal financing for first three years of expansion (regardless of the start date of the expansion), governors and legislators have more reasons than ever to consider expanding coverage in their states to bringing the uninsured rate down even further.