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

2005. They selected four neighboring states without major Medicaid expansionsNew Hampshire (for Maine), Pennsylvania (for New York), and Nevada and New Mexico (for Arizona)as controls. The researchers analyzed data from five years before and after each state's expansion.

The results showed that Medicaid expansions in three states were associated with a significant reduction in mortality of 6.1% compared with neighboring states that did not expand Medicaid, which corresponds to 2,840 deaths prevented per year for each 500,000 adults gaining Medicaid coverage. Mortality reductions were greatest among older adults, non-whites, and residents of poorer counties. Expansions also were associated with increased Medicaid coverage, decreased uninsurance, decreased rates of deferring care due to costs, and increased rates of "excellent" or "very good" self-reported health.

The groups that benefitted from Medicaid expansion in this studyolder adults, racial and ethnic minorities, and those living in poor areasare groups that have traditionally had higher mortality rates and faced greater barriers to care. The study results provide valuable evidence for state policymakers deciding whether or not to expand Medicaid, say the authors.

"Sometimes the political rhetoric is at odds with the evidence, such as claims that Medicaid is a 'broken program' or worse than no insurance at all; our findings suggest precisely the opposite," said Epstein.


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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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