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More Support for Health Reform’s Medicaid Expansion

A recent New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial called on Governor Chris Christie to adopt health reform’s Medicaid expansion for low-income adults, explaining in part:

More than 300,000 working adults without health insurance . . . aren’t eligible for Medicaid now because our state doesn’t cover adults without children unless they go on welfare and make less than $140 a month.  These low-income people would be newly eligible if [Governor] Christie expands the program.  They can’t afford the cost of insurance on the individual market.  And most work for small employers who can’t afford to provide insurance for them.  But when they end up in the emergency room, we all pick up the tab.

Indeed, my earlier testimony before a New Jersey Senate committee laid out several reasons why the Medicaid expansion is a very good deal for states, such as:

  • State and local spending on health care services for the uninsured would fall because many uninsured residents would have Medicaid coverage, largely financed by the federal government.
  • The expansion could strengthen New Jersey’s economic recovery.  For every $1 that the state spent on the expansion, it would receive $9 from the federal government.  That would equal between $9 billion and $11.1 billion in additional federal dollars coming to the state between 2014 and 2019, according to the Urban Institute.
  • Research shows that people on Medicaid are more likely to get preventive care than people without insurance.  Better health care, in turn, leads to better health.  “State Medicaid expansions to cover low-income adults were significantly associated with reduced mortality as well as improved coverage, access to care, and self-reported health,” according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The committee approved a resolution urging the governor to move forward with the expansion.  Governor Christie should act now.