Hospital groups use economics to defend Medicaid expansion

Under pressure to convince mostly conservative legislatures to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, red state hospital associations are turning to economic arguments, according to The Wichita Eagle.

For instance, hospital associations in Kansas and Arkansas face uphill battles in persuading GOP-majority statehouses to accept Medicaid expansion. Both have commissioned or participated in studies demonstrating the economic benefits of expanding Medicaid coverage to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

The study by the Arkansas Hospital Association concluded that Medicaid expansion would save the state $664 million over the next several years, as well as create 8,600 new jobs next year and 10,600 by 2020, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the study undertaken by the Kansas Hospital Association pegged state savings at $82 million between next year and 2020, and 4,000 new jobs by the end of the decade, according to the Eagle.

In Alabama, two University of Alabama economists projected that expanding the Medicaid program would bring nearly $20 billion into the state economy, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

However, the sentiment of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on expanding Medicaid and participating in the state-run healthcare insurance exchanges was succinct: "We need to stand together on Medicaid as long as we possibly can, because those two things are necessary in order to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," he told the Advertiser. "My goal is to make some changes in that law."

For more:
- read the Wichita Eagle article
- read the Associated Press article
- here's Montgomery Advertiser article
- check out the Kansas Hospital Association report (.pdf)