A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) finds that 348 lives were saved since West Virginia expanded Medicaid in 2014. The study compares death rates of the near-elderly – those between the ages of 55 and 64 – in states that have and have not expanded Medicaid and finds that in West Virginia 87 lives per year ,or 348 lives total, have been saved in the five years following Medicaid expansion. Since West Virginia expanded Medicaid in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act the state’s uninsured rate has declined by 56 percent from 2013 to 2017. The researchers found that the reduction in mortality rates for low-income, non-elderly adults is 0.13% for states that expanded Medicaid.
Overall, the study found that 15,600 deaths between 2014 and the end of 2017 could have been avoided had states decided to expand Medicaid coverage and that Medicaid expansion averted 5,176 deaths in the states that did expand Medicaid. Several states were excluded from the study (DE, MA, NY, VT, and DC) because they already expanded Medicaid prior to the Affordable Care Act.
This study emphasizes (again) the importance and success of the Medicaid expansion in West Virginia and why efforts to kick thousands of people of Medicaid expansion in West Virginia by imposing a work reporting requirement are ill-advised. As of August 5, 2019, there were over 155,000 West Virginians covered through the Medicaid expansion, a number that has been declining over the last two years.
There is little doubt West Virginia has gained more from Medicaid expansion than most states and that it improves lives of our people and helps our economy grow. Instead of repealing the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, policymakers should be expanding health coverage to more West Virginians.