One state’s shortcomings don’t outweigh Medicaid expansion’s value

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Re: “Medicaid expansion can come with costly side effects,” by Keith Lerro, M.D., Saturday:

Regarding the Times letter citing Rhode Island’s experience with Medicaid expansion, one state’s experience of that program because of corporate bad behavior cannot be the only benchmark of the program’s effectiveness. We cannot shirk our ethical responsibility of affordable health care for all based on one state’s experience.

And no one, particularly with the title doctor, who purportedly understands the life-threatening consequences of this matter should be throwing around the epithet “elites.”

Thirty-seven states, including the District of Columbia, have adopted Medicaid expansion.

Let’s look at another state, Ohio, with five years of rigorous data for its Medicaid expansion program.

From 2012 to 2017, for those who qualified for Medicaid — a family of three earning $21,000, and below — the uninsured population fell by more than half, from 32.4 percent to 12.8 percent. “Before Obamacare, one in three were uninsured, after, one in eight.”

These statistics come with a bonus of positive data for the entire state.

Key findings show that Medicaid expansion made it easier for employed enrollees to continue working, and for unemployed enrollees to look for work. Those who left the program did so because they found work, obtained job-related non-Medicaid insurance or their incomes increased.

About half of Medicaid expansion enrollees work and the majority — 84% — said the program made it easier to work. Those covered also were far less likely to carry medical debt.

Ohio was one of the states hardest hit by the opioid crisis and Medicaid expansion data bear out Republican Gov. John Kasich’s claim that the program made it easier for the poor to obtain treatment.

So, in that state, Medicaid expansion fulfilled its goals of providing access to affordable health care and greater economic stability.

I’m sure we all can find data validating our own beliefs. The point is where the preponderance of that data falls, whether on the plus or minus side.

A long list of medical and business people who endorse the program for the right reasons is always a plus, too.

Deborah Baro