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Capitol Correspondence - 08.13.18

New Studies Reveal Benefits of Medicaid Expansion

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According to the Washington Post:

“A frequent argument against Medicaid expansion is there aren’t enough doctors accepting Medicaid patients to go around. […]

Now, there might be. New research, led by Hannah T. Neprash, a professor of health policy at the University of Minnesota, concludes that expansion has not caused doctors to take fewer Medicaid patients. [Emphasis in original.]

Using claims data from primary-care physicians nationwide, Neprash found that after comparing 2013 to 2015, — the years before and after states began expanding Medicaid — there was a slight uptick in doctors’ patient population on the government program. In the states that chose to expand (then 30, plus Washington, D.C.), the average share of a doctor’s patients on Medicaid went from 10.2 percent in 2013 to 13.6 percent in 2015. In non-expansion states, there was no notable difference either way, according to the study. 


Another study released Monday afternoon by Health Affairs found that in states that expanded Medicaid, there was a 40 percent increase in patients filling their diabetes prescriptions. The chronic health condition, which requires daily medication to maintain, is prevalent among poorer Americans. The price of insulin has increased sharply in the last decade. Untreated, diabetes can lead to more serious complications like kidney damage or heart disease.


As noted by Kaiser Family Foundation last week in a piece about community health centers’ role in treating opioid addiction, evidence like this will influence the debate as the tussle over the future of Medicaid continues.

Adding eligibility requirements, the independent organization writes, creates additional barriers to Medicaid coverage for those patients dealing with chronic health issues, whereas expansion of Medicaid helps more people address those conditions before they get worse — and even more costly.”