STUDY: Uninsured In Republican-Controlled Southern States Would Benefit Most From Medicaid Expansion

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) plans to reject the Medicaid expansion

A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that southern states would see the most dramatic reduction in their uninsured populations because of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. The study found that all states would benefit from the expansion, but southern states — many run by conservative governors who have pledged to opt out of the measure — would see their adult uninsured populations drop by about 50 percent. According to the report:

Overall, the Medicaid expansion is expected to result in a decrease in the number of uninsured of 11.2 million people, of 45 percent of the uninsured adults below 133 percent of poverty. States with low coverage levels and higher uninsured rates will see larger reductions (Alabama 53.2 percent and Texas 49.4). […]

If states fall short of implementation expectations, fewer individuals will be covered and more individuals will remain uninsured. Under this scenario, states would also forgo large sums of federal funding tied to the coverage of those made newly eligible under reform.

With its ruling, the Supreme Court put the fate of millions of uninsured Americans in the hands of the states, and many southern governors have pledged to refuse the expansion of their state programs. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has promised to reject the Medicaid expansion, denying 1 million Floridians health insurance who would have otherwise been covered.

Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion would provide health insurance for 15.1 million previously uninsured Americans. About 11 million of the newly eligible adults have incomes below the poverty level and would therefore not be able to receive any additional help obtaining health insurance coverage under Obamacare should their state not expand its Medicaid program.

While a few southern Republicans are flexing their gubernatorial muscles against the “cost” of Obamacare, the Urban Institute estimates that 21 to 45 states would actually save money by taking the Medicaid expansion. Not to mention the expansion would also help hospitals currently footing much of the bill for uncompensated care.

If Republican governors end up making good on their promise to reject the expansion, they would likely be doing so at the expense of millions of uninsured citizens who would benefit the most from Obamacare.

Steven Perlberg