Medicaid Expansion Increases Access to Care, Improves Health Outcomes, and Lowers Death Rates New Study Shows
Today the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) continues to call for Medicaid expansion after new research released by Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan non-profit, found significant health and economic benefits in states that had expanded Medicaid. Expanding BadgerCare Plus in Wisconsin is a cornerstone of Governor Evers’ proposed 2021-23 biennial budget. In addition to making affordable health insurance coverage available to an additional 90,000 residents through BadgerCare Plus, adopting Medicaid expansion would bring $1.6 billion in new federal funding into our state. This new research comes as Wisconsin’s portion of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has been decreased by $700 million to $2.5 billion because of higher employment numbers.
The Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed more than 600 studies that evaluated the impact of Medicaid on individuals as well as state economies and state budgets. Their findings have been published in a literature review that builds on similar, previous investigations.
In states that have expanded Medicaid, more people have access to health care. With more access, more people are able to use preventive health care services, like diagnosis and treatment for chronic conditions, and patients see improved health outcomes. With more people accessing cancer screenings, early-stage diagnosis rates increase. More people are able to access treatment for mental health or substance use disorder challenges, both because they have insurance and because more behavioral health service providers begin accepting Medicaid members. Medicaid expansion is connected with lower rates of death; expansion states have seen a significant decrease in their mortality rates.
In addition to the impact Medicaid expansion has on the health of a state’s residents, it also has an impact on the financial stability of the health care system and on the state itself. Hospitals see less uncompensated care, specifically rural hospitals. States that have expanded Medicaid have seen a decrease in annual rural hospital closures. States that did not expand Medicaid lost out on $43 billion in federal funding in 2018 alone.
“The potential impact of Medicaid expansion on our state is clear. More Wisconsin residents will get the care they need when they need it. Wisconsin’s hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, and behavioral health providers will see needed rate increases. The cost of this life-saving health care will be reduced for the taxpayers of Wisconsin because we will bring in $1.6 billion in new federal funding,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “Expanding Medicaid is the most effective way to protect the health of Wisconsin and the health of Wisconsinites.”
Read Secretary-designee Timberlake's editorial for more information about why Wisconsin’s budget should include Medicaid expansion.