Study: No Medicaid Expansion to Cause More Deaths, Hurt Finances

The failure of half the country to expand Medicaid will result in lost federal dollars, and according to a blog post at Health Affairs, it could also lead to thousands of preventable deaths.

Three physicians and a medical student conducted a study to determine what the impact of not expanding Medicaid would be. Samuel Dickman, a medical student at Harvard Medical School in Boston, called the results "sobering," adding that "political decisions have consequences, some of them lethal."

Using data from several other Medicaid expansion studies, researchers found the number of deaths attributable to the lack of Medicaid expansion in the states that have opted out of the provision could range between 7,115 and 17,104 this year. In addition, the lack of Medicaid coverage could lead to hundreds of thousands of fewer mammograms, pap smears and diabetic medication distribution.

As of 2013, 25 states decided to opt out of the Medicaid expansion provision, although Utah agreed to expand the program just this week. States opting into Medicaid expansion are expected to see their uninsured population decline by almost 50 percent under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, whereas opt-out states will see their uninsured population only decrease by about 18 percent, according to the study.

The American Hospital Association and several state hospital associations have urged all states to expand the program for the poor, as they expect the provision will drastically cut down hospital bad debt and improve local economies.

More Articles on Medicaid:
Boston Has Longest Wait Times for Physician Appointments Out of 15 Metro Areas
Study: Patients' Insurance Status Linked to Likelihood of Hospital Transfer
How Will Medicaid Affect Hospitals in 2014? 3 Finance Leaders Respond

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