Health improves for low-income people in Medicaid expansion states

Arkansas and Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid to everyone below a certain income threshold, have seen positive health results since expansion, according to a new study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study found that in the second year of expansion, Kentucky's Medicaid program and Arkansas's private option were associated with significant increases in outpatient utilization, preventive care and improved healthcare quality; reductions in emergency department use; and improved self-reported health.

For the study, researchers surveyed low-income residents of Kentucky, Arkansas and compared responses with low-income residents of Texas, which did not expand Medicaid, according to the New York Times. The survey took place in three parts: in 2013, before Medicaid expansion; at the end of 2014, after Medicaid expansion had been in place for a year; and at the end of last year.

The survey found people in Arkansas and Kentucky were nearly 5 percent more likely than their peers in Texas to say they were in excellent health in 2015, the New York Times reported.

The survey also found people in expansion states were more likely to have received screening for high cholesterol or high blood sugar.

Researchers do note that the study results can't prove that Medicaid expansion caused people to be healthier.



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