"The recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act ruled that states could decide whether or not they wanted to participate in the health care law's Medicaid expansion," Sommers said in a Harvard news release. "Our study provides evidence suggesting that expanding Medicaid has a major positive effect on people's health."
In a journal commentary accompanying the study, two legal experts say the research shows the benefits to states of supporting the Affordable Care Act's provision to expand Medicaid.
"Several Republican governors had made a show of their adamant refusal to expand their Medicaid programs," wrote Timothy Stoltzfus Jost of Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Va., and Sara Rosenbaum of George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, D.C.
"The [Affordable Care Act] offers no other means for covering adults with incomes below 100 percent of the poverty level," the two experts noted. "Resisting states effectively intensify the huge uncompensated burden faced by their hospitals, deprive other health care industry players of important revenues and keep their medically underserved communities from receiving an enormous economic infusion."
Not everyone agrees, however, that the expansion of a public program is the smartest means of improving access to care.
"This seems like very solid research, and encouraging results. The question remains, however, whether Medicaid expansion is the best way to get the job done," said Greg Scandlen, director of the advocacy group Consumers for Health Care Choices. "The program is already under great stress, both in financial terms and in delivering health services. Would it have been better to use the same funds to get the same people into the private mark
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