Effects of Medicaid Expansion Decisions in the South: 3 Statistics

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A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study published in JAMA examines the effects of decisions by states in the south to implement or forgo Medicaid expansion.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aims to extend coverage to the uninsured in part by extending Medicaid to nearly all nonelderly adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($32,900 for a family of four in 2014). Although expansion was originally mandatory, a Supreme Court ruling in 2012 made it optional for the states.

With only 6 of the 17 southern states implementing Medicaid expansion, Medicaid eligibility levels for adults in the south remain low even though many southern states have poverty rates above the national average.

The study found southerners are more likely to be uninsured than people living in other parts of the U.S., with 21 percent of nonelderly southerners uninsured. The northeast has the lowest uninsured rate at 13 percent.

Nationally, 4.8 million uninsured adults in states not expanding Medicaid will fall into a coverage gap, meaning they don't qualify for Medicaid but also don't meet the threshold (100 percent of the federal poverty level) for subsidies to help them buy health plans through the exchanges.

The study found 79 percent of the 4.8 million uninsured adults who fall into the coverage gap live in the south.

The study's findings were based on information from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

More Articles on Medicaid Expansion:

Medicaid Expansion Will Result in Fewer Uninsured in Many Cities by 2016, Study Finds 
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Considers Executive Action on Medicaid Expansion
Medicaid Expansion Alters Economic Geography in Texarkana 

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