To date, 28 states (and Washington D.C.)have elected to expand Medicaid, while the remainder have not, or stuck fighting their legislature to implement or stop the expansion from moving forward. Many of the staunch opposer of the Medicaid Expansion provision maintains that Medicaid does not improve patients’ health, like everything else it depends on what side of the fence you are on. As there is a wealth of literature countering the claim this claim. According to a report by the Institute of Medicine, it was found that health insurance coverage correlated to positive health outcomes. Medicaid coverage in particular has been shown to increase use of preventative and health services, detection of diabetes, lower rates of depression, and nearly eliminate catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenses. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that states that expanded Medicaid to cover low-income adults had lower rates of death compared to states that did not expand. Medicaid is, in fact, good for health and offers financial protection to vulnerable populations.
The non-partisan Urban Institute estimates that the 22 “non-expanding” states will pass on $368 billion in federal funding over ten years, staggeringly greater than the estimated total cost of expansion ($27.7 billion) in these states. Simultaneously, hospitals will lose $167.8 billion in reimbursements. Medicaid spending has also been shown to promote job and income growth as well as state tax revenue. Thus, these states are blatantly abjuring the broad, positive economic implications of reducing the number of uninsured, increasing hospital revenues, and increasing state savings through Medicaid expansion.
The beneficial impact of Medicaid expansion on health and economies is lucid. Leaders in states that have not expanded Medicaid need to allow evidence-based policy to trump partisan politics. They are accountable for the millions of vulnerable, low-income uninsured individuals that could and should have health care coverage.
Now is the time for the people of “non-expanding” states to appeal to and lead their lawmakers out of the convoluted ACA partisan landscape. It is time for the remaining 22 states to expand Medicaid – it just makes sense.