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Positive Effects of Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act

Last week, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released an issue brief on the effects Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had on coverage, access to care, and economic outcomes. In the brief, KFF reviews the findings of over 100 studies of the impact of states extending the eligibility of the Medicaid program to low-income adults between ages 19 and 64.

These studies show that Medicaid expansion significantly enhanced coverage. Coverage increases were seen across a wide spectrum of populations, from the expected low-income adults, low-income workers, and early retirees, to mothers and children who would likely have already been eligible. In addition, other research demonstrates that Medicaid expansion has reduced racial disparities in coverage.

Most of the studies also show that “Medicaid expansion positively impacts access to care, utilization of services, the affordability of care, and financial security among the low-income population. Studies have also shown improved self-reported health following expansion, but additional research is needed to determine effects on health outcomes.” Importantly, while some studies did not reveal any impact of Medicaid expansion on these measures, no studies show a negative impact. And the research reviewed by KFF indicates improved affordability of care and financial security for low-income people with Medicaid.

The brief further reveals that Medicaid expansion led to in reductions in uninsured hospital visits and uncompensated care, which is not a surprising result. But what may be surprising for some are positive findings that show budget savings, revenue gains, overall economic growth and, at least in some states, significant job growth resulting from expansion.

KFF’s work to review and synthesize research on the expansion of Medicaid is vital as policy makers consider changes to the program that could have a profound impact on access to coverage and care for millions of Americans.

Read the full issue brief.

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