The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times reported on recent findings that states, by adopting an expansion in Medicaid coverage, could lower their death rate by up to six percent. The study by Harvard researchers found that when Medicaid was expanded to give more people health insurance less people delayed health care and, overall, less people died.  Sounds like common sense. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This study reflects efforts by researchers to provide policy makers with the information needed to make informed, “evidence-based decisions” as they choose to accept the hundreds of billions of dollars the Affordable Care Act will provide or decline the federal funding and continue on with limited Medicaid eligibility.

Karen Davis, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, a nonpartisan research foundation explains, “Actual mortality studies are few and far between. This is a well-done study: timely, adds to the evidence base, and certainly should raise concern about the failure to expand Medicaid coverage to people most at risk of not getting the care that they need.”

The study looked at data from three states; New York, Maine, and Arizona, who have expanded their coverage and compared them to similar neighboring states that have not expanded their coverage. The three states that expanded their coverage to include people that previously were uninsured, mainly low-income adults without children and without disabilities that otherwise would not be covered, saw an average of 2,840 fewer deaths for every 500,000 people that were added. “Policymakers should be aware that major changes in Medicaid, either expansions or reductions in coverage, may have significant effects on the health of vulnerable populations,” the authors of the study wrote in their conclusion.


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