Posted by | July 27, 2012 15:59 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

The decision by states to forgo Medicaid funds has focused on the (limited) costs to the states involved.  Virtually ignored is the health care for poorer people that will result from the expansion.  A new study casts this side of the story in a stark light:

A trio of Harvard researchers tackled that questionby looking at three states that expanded Medicaid eligibility between 2000 and 2005 (Arizona, Maine, and New York) and comparing their change in mortality rates with nearby states that didn’t expand Medicaid eligibility. The chart below shows the results. In the expansion states, Medicaid enrollment went up dramatically, from 8% to 13% of the population. At the same time, mortality rates went down substantially, from 320 per 100,000 to 300 per 100,000.

As usual, you should interpret these results cautiously. Three states is a small sample, and the results are dominated heavily by strongly positive results in New York (in fact, mortality actually went up in Maine). Still, this study strongly suggest that Medicaid expansion really does extend lives. It’s a helluva bargain for states that participate.

So any governor that refuses to expand Medicaid may be shortening the lives of some of the residents of his state.

By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.