Report: Expanding Medicaid Could Allow Low-Income Working Residents To Gain Health Insurance

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STATE — Last year’s Supreme Court ruling on the legality of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law left the decision on whether to expand Medicaid coverage up to individual states. New Jersey Policy Perspective released a report today that shows up to 176,970 of the nearly 700,000 working adults in the state without health insurance could gain coverage under the proposed Medicaid expansion.

The provision in the Affordable Care Act would expand Medicaid coverage to individuals earning up to 138 percent of the poverty line income ($15,414 for an individual and $26,344 for a family of three), starting in 2014.  The federal government would pay 100 percent of all state expenditures generated by the expanded coverage, gradually dropping permanently to 90 percent by 2020. The uncovered state expenditures are expected to be offset by reductions in the amount needed for charity care and other state-funded programs.

The largest number of uninsured workers who could benefit from this expansion are in the food services and construction industries, but some are found in 190 out of 268 Census-defined job categories.

“An expanded Medicaid would improve the health of New Jersey’s low-income workers,” the report says. “People with Medicaid have much better access to health care than the uninsured. They’re much more likely to have seen a doctor in the last six months and not use hospital emergency rooms for routine care. A recent study found that when states have expanded Medicaid, mortality rates have fallen.”


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