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Expanding Medicaid Coverage Cuts Mortality, Improves Health

Significantly reduced mortality, improvements in coverage, access to care, self-reported health

WEDNESDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- Expansion of Medicaid eligibility is associated with reduced mortality and improvements in various health-related measures, according to a study published online July 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Benjamin D. Sommers, M.D., Ph.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined the impact of Medicaid expansions by comparing three states that expanded adult Medicaid eligibility since 2000 (New York, Maine, and Arizona) with neighboring states without expansions. Adults aged 20 to 64 were observed for five years before and after expansions, from 1997 to 2007.

The researchers found that Medicaid expansions correlated with a significant decrease in adjusted all-cause mortality (relative reduction, 6.1 percent), with the greatest decreases seen for older adults, nonwhites, and residents of poorer counties. Expansions led to a 24.7 percent relative increase in Medicaid coverage as well as significantly decreased rates of uninsurance (relative reduction, 14.7 percent) and delayed care because of costs (relative reduction, 21.3 percent). There was also an significant increase in the rates of self-reported health status of "excellent" or "very good" (relative increase, 3.4 percent).

"The recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act ruled that states could decide whether or not they wanted to participate in the health care law's Medicaid expansion," Sommers said in a statement. "Our study provides evidence suggesting that expanding Medicaid has a major positive effect on people's health."

A coauthor disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, retirement/investment, and medical consulting companies.

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