How will Medicaid expansion help women?

Medicaid provides critical preventive and primary care services to low-income women, and protects women’s access to family planning by ensuring coverage and giving them the ability to choose their own health care provider.

Now, because of Obamacare, the number of people covered under Medicaid will increase dramatically; in fact, as many as 7 million more women could access health care for preventive screenings.  Of these women, 4.6 million will be of reproductive age (ages 19-44).

States now have the option to accept federal funding and provide more care to hardworking individuals and families, or to reject expansion. When you look at the facts, the decision is obvious.

The Federal Government covers all costs of medicaid expansion through 2016

The federal government will finance the full cost of covering newly eligible individuals in the Medicaid program for the first three years, and gradually decrease the amount to 90 percent by 2020. This means that the federal government has already put aside funding for each state to provide people affordable health coverage. If the state accepts those federal funds, it will not have to pay anything for the first three years, and even after that, the state will pay only a fraction of the costs to cover hardworking families.

Notably, the costs for the newly eligible Medicaid population will be lower than those currently eligible or enrolled in Medicaid, as they tend to be younger and in better health. The Urban Institute estimates that states will save between $26 and $52 billion from 2014 to 2019. It’s called a win-win.

Medicaid is a good investment in the long run

If all states accept the federal money, an additional 7 million women will be able to get preventive health screenings, birth control, checkups, and the care they need to manage chronic conditions.  Of these women, 4.6 million will be of reproductive age (ages 19-44).

Expanding coverage will ultimately lower health care costs, helping states save money in the long run.  Wells Fargo characterized the Medicaid expansion as “too good to pass up” considering the state savings and generous federal match.

While politicians and governors in states may try to resist implementation citing costs, many research groups have identified that the long-run savings far outweigh any short-term costs.  The Lewin Group estimates state and local savings of $101 billion in uncompensated care — people who receive care, but are unable to pay for it.  

Accepting federal funds will means that a state can cover more hardworking people and their families — and save taxpayer dollars that are currently spent to treat uninsured individuals.  In states where there are a high number of uninsured residents, Medicaid could make a significant impact not only financially, but in the lives of women and families who benefit.

A new study from Harvard School of Public Health found that states that substantially expanded Medicaid coverage to adults had a 6.1 percent decline in death rates in individuals ages 20-64.

The evidence is clear — expanding Medicaid is good for women and families and good for states. Isn’t it time states put affordable access to health care above politics?