New Research Documents Health Benefits of Medicaid Expansion

We like to review the research here at CCF and that certainly goes for papers examining the effects of Medicaid expansion. I pulled together a quick overview of that research last year and recently my colleague, Lauren Roygardner, has highlighted an impressive study showing Medicaid expansion improves access to treatments for opioid addiction.

The studies showing Medicaid expansion’s benefits continue. Just in the last week research has found:

Fewer deaths from heart disease. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that states implementing Medicaid expansion had “a significantly lower mortality rate” from heart disease.  Specifically, “counties in expansion states had four fewer deaths per 100,000 residents per year from CV [cardiovascular] causes after expansion…compared with counties in non-expansion states.”

Increase in colorectal cancer screenings. A team led by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts found that overall colon cancer screening rates increased significantly in expansion states compared with non-expansion states. In addition the authors found “expansion accelerated the increases in early expansion states and among low-income and black respondents.” This is especially important given the well-known disparities in colorectal cancer screening among racial and ethnic minorities.

Better treatment for people with opioid addiction.  Following up on last year’s research noted above, this new study focused on West Virginia.  The state has triple the national average of fatal opioid overdoses.  Medicaid expansion has resulted in a large increase in people getting comprehensive treatment for opioid addiction.

These three studies join the hundreds of others showing the positive benefits of Medicaid expansion for state residents. In the 14 states that haven’t expanded, there is little evidence-based reason to wait.

Adam Searing is an Associate Professor at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families.