Mounting evidence reinforces the case for accepting federal funds to improve health care access and affordability in Maine

Several recent studies and analyses of the 31 states that have accepted federal money to increase access to health care demonstrate the continued benefits of doing so. The research confirms that Medicaid expansion is a win-win-win – good for patients, good for the states, and good for everyone with private health insurance.

An August 8 study by researchers at the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University found a variety of increased health benefits for low-income residents of two expansion states (Arkansas and Kentucky) compared to those in a non-expansion state (Texas). Residents in the expansion states had more visits to primary care and specialist doctors, used the emergency room less, and reported to be in better health.

Meanwhile, analysis by the Urban Institute (UI) published August 9 confirms MECEP’s own findings that accepting federal funding makes fiscal sense for states. The UI study found that states benefit financially from accepting federal funds, to the tune of $8-9 for every $1 expended by the states, a formula that holds true through 2026.

Finally, in an analysis released August 25 the federal Department of Health and Human Services found that in states which had expanded access to Medicaid insurance premiums for the rest of the population were 7% lower than premiums in non-expansion states. The decision to offer Medicaid to low-income residents makes insurance cheaper for everyone else.

Maine’s continued refusal to accept hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicaid funding is expensive. It’s expensive for the state’s bottom line, for the health of low-income Mainers, and for the pocket books of all of us with private health insurance. Maine lawmakers need to heed the mounting evidence that accepting federal funds increases health care access and affordability and will be a boon to the state’s economy and the well-being of all Mainers.