The expansion of Medicaid has been hotly contested guideline of the Affordable Care Act, and 27 states have refused to expand Medicaid eligibility guidelines, thus effectively denying coverage for hundreds of thousands of people nationally. The Commonwealth Fund, a foundation dedicated to promoting health care reform though increasing access to care and improving quality of care, recently shot a video outlining several powerful points about Medicaid expansion and, specifically, how Medicaid expansion effects Latinos.
In comparison, one Medicaid expansion state, Connecticut, and one that has refused Medicaid expansion, Oklahoma, we learn that over 144,000 individuals could be insured but have been denied coverage because of States refusal to expand eligibility. The Commonwealth Fund explores this idea even further and tackles states with high Latino populations that have refused to expand Medicaid eligibility requirements.
Sinsi Hernandez-Cancio, Director of Health Equity for Families USA, shared her own personal story of how she had to file for bankruptcy because she racked up thousands of dollars of medical bills during a gap in coverage, giving a visible face to the fragility that comes with lacking health insurance.
Sara Collins, Vice President of The Commonwealth Fund, points out what we already know that expanding Medicaid coverage has decreased uninsured rates drastically, but states like Texas and Florida with high Latino population rates have refused expansion. Michelle Doty, Vice President of The Commonwealth Fund, notes Latinos have traditionally had the high uninsured rate in the nation. The number of Latinos who lack coverage is a staggering 1.3 million. It is disheartening that the states with the some of the highest Latino population rates have refused to expand Medicaid.
States that have expanded Medicaid eligibility have seen uninsured rates drop from 28% in 2013 to 17% among people with incomes under 100% federal poverty level. Additionally, states refusing Medicaid expansion are also refusing money. Millions of local tax payer dollars are being left on the table. These dollars go to other states that have expanded Medicaid. Expanding Medicaid doesn’t just help uninsured people; it helps the economy as well. Leaving millions of dollars on the table for other states to use is just not economically smart.
This infographic by The Commonwealth Fund says it all. In comparing the four most populous states, New York and California, states that expanded Medicaid and set up an exchange, and Texas and Florida, states that refused Medicaid expansion, we see a drastic difference in uninsured rates. New York and California have uninsured rates of 12% and 17% while Texas and Florida come in at 21% and 30% respectively.
As I said in my in my previous blog about Medicaid expansion, we in Connecticut are leading the way on the national stage in Medicaid expansion. But even Connecticut may see some Medicaid coverage gaps the new budget proposal is approved.
It is time to ensure everyone has access to health insurance. Lives depend on it.
Image credit: iStock photo, contributed by teekid