The New York Times highlighted a new study showing states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) saw noticeable improvements in public health outcomes relative to states that did not enact the expansion -- adding to mounting evidence debunking right-wing media paranoia about the inevitable demise of Obamacare.
On August 9, the Times reported that a new article in JAMA Internal Medicine -- a subsidiary of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) -- points to the ACA as a component in improving American public health through Medicaid expansion and increasing access to health care. The newspaper noted that this report comes after multiple studies have shown the ACA has been reducing Americans’ medical debt and encouraging more Americans to see a doctor for regular preventative services -- showing that the law is effective at accomplishing its goal of assisting Americans’ access to quality health care. From The New York Times:
A few recent studies suggest that people have become less likely to have medical debt or to postpone care because of cost. They are also more likely to have a regular doctor and to be getting preventive health services like vaccines and cancer screenings. A new study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, offers another way of looking at the issue. Low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid insurance to everyone below a certain income threshold, appear to be healthier than their peers in Texas, which did not expand.
Their survey found people in Arkansas and Kentucky were nearly 5 percent more likely than their peers in Texas to say they were in excellent health in 2015. And that difference was bigger than it had been the year before.
No two states are exactly the same, of course. There are many differences between Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky, besides their decisions on this part of the Affordable Care Act. The authors cautioned that their results can’t prove that Medicaid expansion caused people to be healthier.
These findings come one month after JAMA published an article President Obama wrote about the accomplishments of his signature legislation since it became law in 2010. The president’s article, the first scholarly work ever authored by a sitting president, noted that the uninsured rate has dropped 43 percent (from 16.0 percent in 2010 to 9.1 percent in 2015), that the law has contributed to greater financial security for Americans, and that it has actually led to better public health.
These latest reports directly contradict past right-wing media fearmongering that the law would not help Americans and would ultimately fail to provide stable, affordable, and expanded access to health care. For years, conservative media promoted the lie that Obamacare created so-called “death panels” that would ration health care for the sick and elderly. They falsely claimed that the law would weaken the economy, fail to attract participants, have no effect on uninsured rates, significantly increase health care costs, and irrevocably undermine the fabric of society. All of the catastrophic predictions failed to materialize.