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Study: 15,600 Died Because Of States That Didn’t Implement Medicaid Expansion

A new study suggests that, between the years 2014 and 2017, approximately 15,600 Americans died because their home states didn’t implement an expansion of Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

The National Bureau of Economic Research, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, conducted the study, according to reporting from Mother Jones. It found that the deaths, occurring over the span of three years, likely occurred in the 14 states that didn’t agree to enact the Medicaid expansion (and the three that have agreed to do so but haven’t yet implemented it) because the individuals who would have qualified for it lacked another means of attaining healthcare coverage.

The expansion of Medicaid eligibility was originally meant to occur uniformly across the United States. However, a Supreme Court ruling in 2012 found that Medicaid expansion should be determined by federal and state governments, meaning that states that didn’t want to implement it couldn’t be forced to do so.

Many believe that the refusal by some states to agree to the expansion was on partisan rather than policy disagreements. States with Republican-managed state legislatures and governor’s offices were the primary places where the “Obamacare” Medicaid expansion didn’t happen.

“There’s some states that will abandon some of their neediest citizens, and some of the neediest citizens will have horrible outcomes,” Harold Pollack, a policy expert on health at the University of Chicago, explained.

Other studies from the past have demonstrated that a lack of access to insurance or health care coverage (private or public) does result in an enormous loss of life. A Harvard study from 2009, well-before the Affordable Care Act was passed into law, found that nearly 45,000 individuals in the United States died annually from lack of coverage.

The Affordable Care Act resulted in tens of millions of Americans attaining health insurance coverage than had been insured before it was implemented. In 2009, for instance, 17.3 percent of the population didn’t have insurance. By 2017, that rate was down to 10.2 percent, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported.



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