Expanding the Medicaid Health Insurance Program

This week, Joint Interim Revenue considered several bills as part of an effort to address the looming deficit Wyoming faces. One of those bills, put forward by Management Council, was an expansion of the Medicaid health insurance program–with a 4-year sunset clause and a stipulation that if the federal match drops below 90%, Wyoming will leave.

Unfortunately, Revenue failed to advance any bills, including MedEx.

We want to give you a quick overview about why that program is so important to Wyomingites.

If we want the “Wyoming way of life” . . . this collection of scattered small towns amid nature, big open spaces, agriculture, the great outdoors, etc. . . . to continue to survive and thrive, then we need to adapt, invest in our people, and recognize that our schools, hospitals, and our access to quality healthcare are the very foundation of this way of life. 

And that this is one piece of a larger puzzle that we’re all trying to figure out right now—in a resource constrained environment.

This is about closing a very specific health insurance coverage gap (within the current law of the land) in order to make the system work a little better (as opposed to randomly expanding some federal government program because we love federal government programs).

You see three colors on this map. Green states are the ones with a completely traditional Medicaid Expansion. That’s the least expensive, most cost effective option for health coverage for most states. But you also see blue states here because this was not designed as a one-size-fits-all program, so 10 states, including several around us, have used what they call 1115 waivers to tailor the program to their state’s populations and needs.

And the news for those states in blue and green is good. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s 2019 report, the economic impact to states that have expanded includes:

  • Higher GDP
  • Increased state revenue
  • More jobs
  • Higher growth in health care wages

In Louisiana alone, Medicaid expansion resulted in $1.85 billion in new federal funds; $3.48 billion in business activity; almost 19,200 jobs; and over $1.1 billion in new personal earnings in state fiscal year 2017. 

  • Medicaid Expansion states have stronger economies than non-Expansion states, they have more jobs, their hospitals stay open, and they outperform non-Expansion states.
  • Medicaid Expansion states have significantly fewer uninsured people in the midst of the COVID-19 recession. 
  • Medicaid Expansion states also see fewer hospital closings than non-expansion states.

How do we know about that economic impact?

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health organization, looked at 404 studies of Medicaid Expansion to see how it played out across expansion states. Just completely doing a meta-analysis to see if it if good, bad, or mixed. The results are overwhelmingly positive.

Takeaways

This is really about how we work together to build a healthy Wyoming and this is one of the pieces of the puzzle to get there. 

  • Medicaid produces economic benefits for both the individuals it covers and the states that implement it.
  • Medicaid is responsive to economic downturns, enabling people to access coverage and care in times of financial stress
  • Of all types of health insurance, research shows Medicaid is the most successful in reducing poverty rates, especially for women. 
  • Medicaid coverage at different points during the lifespan has been tied to economic mobility across generations and higher educational attainment, income, and taxes paid. 

There are benefits to individuals and to states. Research shows it is one of the most effective and responsive tools in emergencies—like the one we’re in right now. It reduces poverty, especially for women, and it has longitudinal effects.

Healthier people ensure thriving communities. 

The People’s Review: LIVE is an ongoing, interactive, highly accessible, low-cost way for people across Wyoming to engage with ESPC’s mission, Wyoming’s government, pressing current events, subject matter experts, and each other. Join us for the People’s Review: LIVE on Thursday, June 18, 2020 @ 5pm.

  • Health Insurance: Closing the Coverage Gap and Halting the Collapse of Rural Hospitals
  • Thursday, June 18, 2020
  • 5-6 p.m.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *