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Expanding Medicaid to low-income adults leads to improved health, fewer deaths
Date:7/25/2012

Boston, MA ─ A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) finds that expanding Medicaid to low-income adults leads to widespread gains in coverage, access to care, andmost importantlyimproved health and reduced mortality. It is the first published study to look specifically at the effect of recent state Medicaid expansions on mortality among low-income adults, and the findings suggest that expanding coverage to the uninsured may save lives.

"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. Our study provides evidence suggesting that expanding Medicaid has a major positive effect on people's health," said Benjamin Sommers, assistant professor of health policy and economics at HSPH and the study's lead author.

The study will be published online July 25, 2012 and will appear in the September 13, 2012 print issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the past decade, several states expanded Medicaid from its traditional coverage of low-income children, parents, pregnant women, and disabled persons to include "childless adults," poor adults without any children living at home and the population most directly targeted by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Medicaid currently covers 60 million people, and the ACA will extend eligibility to millions more beginning in 2014. However, the Supreme Court decision gives states the option of choosing whether or not to expand coverage and, because of budget pressures, some states are considering cutbacks, not expansion.

The HSPH researchers, including senior author Arnold Epstein, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, and Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics, analyzed data from three statesArizona, Maine, and New Yorkthat had expanded their Medicaid programs to childless adults (aged 20-64) between 2000 and
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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-8413
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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