In Case Republicans Needed More Proof Obamacare Works, Here It Is

Patient Amanda Thornton speaks with a primary care doctor at a clinic that serves Medicaid patients CREDIT: AP PHOTO/GOSIA WOZNIACKA
Patient Amanda Thornton speaks with a primary care doctor at a clinic that serves Medicaid patients CREDIT: AP PHOTO/GOSIA WOZNIACKA

One of Obamacare’s major provisions — which is bitterly opposed by most Republicans — has helped improve patients’ insurance coverage, financial situation, and overall quality of life, according to a new study.

Under President Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act, state Medicaid services were expanded to additional low-income people, with the federal government currently footing 100 percent of the bill and paying most of the costs in the future.

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The study, released by the Department of Health and Human Services, found that 78 percent of new Medicaid participants reported they wouldn’t be able to get regular care without the expansion of the program. Additionally, the study showed unmet health care for low income people dropped from over 55 percent before the expansion to just under 45 percent after the expansion.

Medicaid expansion also led to more people having access to health care, the report found. In states that expanded Medicare coverage, there was a 9.2 percent drop in the number of adults without insurance. States that didn’t expand Medicaid had just under an 8 percent drop in the number of uninsured people.

Aside from the health benefits identified, the study also showed Medicaid expansion has led to a better financial situation for low-income adults. Under the expansion, the percentage of low-income adults who reported difficulty paying their medical bills dropped from 34 percent to just over 24 percent.

And the study found those with Medicaid expansion coverage are, for the most part, happy with their health care. An overwhelming 93 percent said they are very or somewhat satisfied with their plan under Medicaid, and 61 percent believe they are better off with Medicaid expansion coverage than they were before getting this coverage.

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Oklahoma GOP Does an About-Face on Medicaid ExpansionHealth by CREDIT: In a surprising about-face, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and the state’s GOP leaders are considering…thinkprogress.orgThe study adds to a plethora of research already showing that the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion program has improved the financial security of poor people as well as provided the nation’s most vulnerable with easier access to insurance. And as ThinkProgress previously reported, Medicaid expansion can benefit states in additional ways, such as by creating new jobs and reducing the number of layoffs, keeping kids in school, increasing household incomes, and helping hospitals stay open.

But the overwhelming evidence that Obamacare and Medicaid expansion have improved people’s lives hasn’t stopped 19 states from refusing to accept the program’s expansion. Republicans, who have made opposing Obamacare a way of life, control the governorships in 17 out of the 19 states that have refused to expand Medicaid. And in the two other states that have refused, Virginia and Missouri, Republicans control the state legislature.

Some Republican-led states have started to come around on Medicaid expansion, but a vast majority continue to refuse access to a healthcare system that would benefit people in their states and will be paid for mostly by the federal government.

If every state expanded Medicaid, more than 3 million low-income people would have health insurance.

Evan Popp is an intern at ThinkProgress.