Sunday, December 16, 2012

Growing Evidence for the Benefits of the Medicaid Opportunity in the Health Care Reform Law
The federal health care reform law gives states the option of filling a gaping hole in most Medicaid programs – coverage for low-income adults.  In Wisconsin, the law would provide federal funding for nearly all of the cost of closing the large gap in BadgerCare coverage for adults under 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) who aren’t caretakers of children. 

Over the last month, much of the attention has been on the establishment of health insurance exchanges, which are a very important part of making quality insurance more accessible for low-income individuals who don’t have access to affordable employer-sponsored coverage.  However, the subsidies for coverage purchased through an exchange don’t apply to adults below the poverty level, and they may not be large enough for many adults between 100% and 138% of FPL.  In other words, Medicaid is the foundation upon which the new exchange coverage builds, but the current hole in BadgerCare leaves Wisconsin without one of the cornerstones in that foundation.

In an article in today’s Isthmus, I lay out some of the many reasons why Wisconsin should take advantage of the Medicaid option.  And, in a series of three WCCF blog posts this week, I’ve been summarizing some of the growing evidence from national studies and state analyses that have reinforced the conclusion that the Medicaid option is a very good deal for the states:

Idaho Study Concludes that Medicaid Expansion Would Yield State Savings – After reviewing the latest analysis of the costs and benefits, a committee appointed by the Governor in the very conservative state of Idaho unanimously recommended taking advantage of the Medicaid option to improve access to preventive health care, reduce cost-shifting, and save the state money. 

National Study Concludes Closing BadgerCare Gap Would Cut Wisconsin Spending – The Urban Institute analysis shows that the Medicaid option is a very good deal for all states, and they estimate that Wisconsin will save $248 million over the next ten years by filling the gap in BadgerCare.

Missouri Governor Touts Economic Benefits of Medicaid Expansion – Governor Nixon is making a broader economic development case for taking the federal Medicaid funding, backed by a University of Missouri study which estimated that Medicaid expansion would generate 24,000 jobs in the next year, as well as significant new revenue.

We will continue to review and analyze information about the cost and benefits of the Medicaid option as additional material becomes available.

In Case You Missed It: 
•    Walker’s Decision Not to Develop an Insurance Exchange: Analyzing What the Governor Said and Didn’t Say
•    As Walker Decides Against a State-Run Insurance Exchange, a Few Conservative States Support Them: With Deadline Extended, about 10 Governors are Still Considering the Options
•    BadgerCare Enrollment Stabilizes in October

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