Medicaid expansion tied to better hospital cost control

Hospital costs in Ohio are more in check as a result of expanding Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And the greater financial stability may push other states to expand eligibility soon.

Fewer uninsured patients showed up in the emergency rooms of Ohio hospitals in recent months since the state decided to expand eligibility to about 366,000 low-income residents, the Associated Press reported.

"Ohio was ahead of the curve on this, and it puts us in a little bit of a better position from a financial standpoint," Bryan Bucklew, president of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, told the AP.

The wire service also quoted new data from the University of Colorado concluding that hospitals in states where Medicaid expanded saw the amount of charity care provided drop from an average of $2.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $1.9 million during the first quarter of 2014. By comparison, charity care in the states that did not expand Medicaid saw their charity care expenditures rise an average of 11 percent, from $3.8 million in the fourth quarter of last year to $4.2 million in first quarter of this year.

There is also a strong correlation between a rise in inpatient admissions and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility.

Moreover, Bucklew predicted that more states will face pressure to change their anti-ACA stance in regards to Medicaid expansion. In Arizona, which, like Ohio, is one of the few GOP-led states to expand Medicaid, political resistance has fallen away.

However, many states continue to strongly object to Medicaid expansion. Some cited cost concerns, although the federal government would pick up the entire cost for the first three years of implementation. In Virginia, Republican lawmakers engaged in several procedural maneuvers to block Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, from expanding the program by executive order, the Washington Post reported.

To learn more:
- read the Associated Press article
- here's the Washington Post article