Blog by W. Stephen Love, President/CEO, DFW Hospital Council
Numbers do not lie. A study of eight states that chose to expand Medicaid, including Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia, was released yesterday and the financial benefits were undeniable. The Manatt Health Solutions and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report concluded those eight states enjoyed a financial benefit of $1.8 billion, a mixture of fewer budget expenditures and additional revenue.
Admittedly, eight states out of the 26 that expanded Medicaid coverage represents roughly 30 percent, but it’s a nice sample with revealing numbers. Some of the states have experienced a significant financial benefit. Michigan is projected to reap $389 million in savings by replacing general funds it spends on the uninsured with Medicaid funds. Washington is projected to save $342 million through the end of this year due to federal matching funds from the Medicaid program.
Traditionally, states have implemented programs for the uninsured such as mental health, public health and prisoner treatment funded with state dollars. The Medicaid coverage expansion included these programs (using federal dollars) so these savings can now be used for other needs such as education. States also realized savings from enhanced federal matching in the coverage expansion, rather than specialized “medically needy” categories, such as pregnant women or the disabled.
Some states like Arkansas utilized a “private option” to secure coverage. Our state’s option, “The Texas Way,” will help some residents caught in a gap with no eligibility. When you walk down the street, one in four people you see represent the face of the Texas uninsured.
Albert Schweitzer said, “The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.” The fundamental question is not about politics or cost savings. It’s about compassion and the will to help all of our friends and neighbors secure healthcare coverage.