Sep 7, 2021, 11:00 AM, Posted by Avenel Joseph
Closing the Medicaid coverage gap would save lives, reduce costs, and help eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities such as maternal mortality rates among women of color.
Editor's Note: This post was updated in February, 2022.
“I am grateful for Medicaid because I can live on my own,” said Theresa, who has Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. Medicaid covers the costs associated with Theresa’s physical and occupational therapy, a wheelchair, and personal care attendants.
“I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for Medicaid,” said Laticia, who received Medicaid coverage while growing up in the foster system that allowed her to receive care for both physical and mental health conditions.
“Medicaid has been a blessing,” said Regina, who relies on Medicaid to cover her daughter’s routine medical and preventive care that would otherwise be unaffordable.
There are approximately 75 million people in the United States enrolled in Medicaid, making it the largest health care provider in the country. And while each participant’s story is unique, Theresa, Laticia, and Regina have at least one thing in common: each lives in a state—Montana, Missouri, and Iowa, respectively—that has expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide quality and affordable health care coverage to more of its residents. In fact, 38 states have done so since that landmark law was enacted.
But 12 states have refused to expand their Medicaid programs under the ACA, denying health care coverage to more than two million people—disproportionately people of color—who would qualify for the program if expansion was implemented in those states. These holdout states have refused to budge even as the federal government would cover the vast majority of expansion costs; even as Medicaid expansion states reap a variety of health and economic benefits; and even as the United States remains in the throes of a deadly pandemic.