At the national level, where there is a move to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and in Louisiana where some officials want to end Medicaid expansion, there are critics who use the argument that Medicaid patients get worse care than those without coverage. 

A recent article in Governing magazine suggests this is simply not true. As reported by Governing:

“For the states that chose to expand their programs, there is ample evidence of increased usage of health services and improved affordability of care.” For example, a study last year in The Journal of the American Medical Association looked at outcomes in Arkansas and Kentucky that took two different approached to expanding Medicaid coverage. The study found residents in these two states had more access to primary care, paid lower out-of-pocket health-care costs and rarely skipped medications.

Governing acknowledges there is not much research yet on the overall impact of expansion, but points to Louisiana’s effort to understand the benefits of this new coverage:

To overcome the spotty research that’s out there and to determine the impact of enrolling more people in Medicaid, Louisiana is putting a lot of resources into tracking the expansion’s effect. The state expanded its program last year and has implemented what it calls a Medicaid expansion dashboard. In mid-December, the dashboard was showing that under the expanded program nearly 360,000 Louisianans had obtained health coverage, more than 4,000 women had been screened for breast cancer, more than 3,600 people had received colon cancer screenings and more than 700 adults had been newly diagnosed with diabetes.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, agreed that more studies are needed, but said evidence in Louisiana shows that coverage leads to better health outcomes. “Our dashboard makes one thing completely clear … that there is a demand for preventive care.”

For the most up-to-date numbers, view Louisiana's dashboard at ldh.la.gov/healthyladashboard.

Read the full article here.