Kentucky's decision to expand Medicaid proves beneficial compared to neighboring non-expansion states

Kentucky's decision to expand Medicaid helped put it ahead of its neighbors — namely Tennessee and Virginia — as far as healthcare coverage is concerned, according to a Families USA teleconference cited in The State Journal.

Families USA, the national organization for healthcare consumers, recently published a report entitled "Medicaid Expansion States Help More Working Poor People Get Health Coverage." The report examined the number of uninsured workers between 2013 and 2014, the first year in which Medicaid expansion was offered. It found while the number of uninsured workers decreased by 25 percent in expansion states, the number only decreased by 13 percent in non-expansion states.

In addition to a reduction in the uninsured rate, the Medicaid expansion program created myriad benefits in Kentucky. "In the first year, we saw a reduction in smoking, obesity and cancer deaths. There was access to preventive care such as screenings," said Cara Stewart, a health law fellow for the Kentucky Equal Justice Center. "We're keeping people healthy. Neighboring populations are missing out."

A number of Tennesseans and Virginians agree.

"I'm not pleased that my state is one of 19 not to extend Medicaid expansion," said Tennessee Sen. Richard Briggs (R), MD. "We still have a large number of people who have no access to healthcare."

Ray Scher, treasurer of the Virginia Organizing State Governing Board, agreed. "I sympathize with Dr. Briggs. His experience mirrors ours," he said. "Virginia does not take care of its own."

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