A new study just released shows that adult mortality decreases in states that have expanded their Medicaid services. Reuters reports that the study was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine and concluded that adult mortality rates went down by six percent in states that developed wider Medicaid services over the course of five years.
The study was conducted by an advisor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Benjamin Sommers, who works with the Harvard School of Public Health. But it has been made clear that the work is not intended to reflect the current government’s stance on the issues of Medicaid and expansion.
The study looked at adults between the ages of 20 and 64 years old in three states that expanded Medicaid coverage, and three states that did not. The numbers were compared over a five year period to ascertain the effect of the expansion. Researchers feel relatively certain they have isolated Medicaid and readily available care as a possible component in the decrease in adult mortality rates. The study is the first one that takes a look at the mortality of adults in this context, rather than children, the Wall Street Journal points out. Researchers also adjusted the outcomes according to variables such as race, age and sex.
As quoted on MSNBC, Benjamin Sommers concluded:
The takeaway is that state expansions of Medicaid coverage to adults appear to be effective at improving both access to care and health for low-income Americans.
The study comes in the wake of countless months of debates in which Republican politicians have refused the efficacy and viability of Medicaid plans in improving health and vitality of low-income populations. Many states have flat out stated they cannot afford an expansion in Medicaid, even after the health care law was passed and a nationwide expansion has been encouraged in the Affordable Care Act.
Medicaid has also been attacked and villainized in recent months in states like Virginia for providing abortions to low-income women. In these attacks, Medicaid is often portrayed as a tool used by the government in order to promote abortion.
This most recent study, although not comprehensive, begins to uncover a possible connection between the overall health of certain populations, especially in older, nonwhite communities, and the availability and affordability of preventative health care.