Medicaid expansion helps hospital bottom lines

Researchers for the Center for Children and Families (CCF) and the Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute have concluded that the expansion of Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act has been a boon to safety-net hospitals and other providers.

“Safety-net facilities in expansion states have used their new financial security to take steps to improve the way the health system works both in their facilities and in their broader communities,” wrote Jack Hoadley of Georgetown and Adam Searing of the CCF in a Health Affairs blog post. Furthermore, their ability to hire new staff and to expand facilities not only benefits the patients they care for but also offers a beneficial economic impact to their communities.” 

Various studies have found Medicaid expansion reduces the debt of patients and lessens some of the pressure on rural hospitals, which have been experiencing rocky financial times.

The authors of the latest study report that safety-net providers have now been able to hire staff, open new facilities and expand services for clients with the greatest healthcare needs. However, those organizations that provide services in states that did not expand Medicaid continue to struggle to meet patient needs, they said. 

However, Medicaid expansion has been far from perfect, Hoadley and Searing wrote. Access to specialists and specialty care remains spotty for many program enrollees, they noted.

However, an examination of the issue by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also suggested that Medicaid expansion eligibility by all states would also increase access to sorely needed behavioral healthcare services.

To learn more:
- read the Health Affairs blog post

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