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La. looks at health effects of Medicaid expansion

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In New Orleans’s French Quarter.

Has Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act made people healthier? Governing magazine looks at the question. It reports:

“To overcome the spotty research that’s out there and to determine the impact of enrolling more people in Medicaid, Louisiana is putting a lot of resources into tracking the expansion’s effect. The state expanded its program last year and has implemented what it calls a Medicaid expansion dashboard. In mid-December, the dashboard was showing that under the expanded program nearly 360,000 Louisianans had obtained health coverage, more than 4,000 women had been screened for breast cancer, more than 3,600 people had received colon cancer screenings and more than 700 adults had been diagnosed with diabetes.

But not every state is willing or able to devote the resources Louisiana has to measuring the program’s impact. That’s especially true now that the future of the Affordable Care Act is up in the air with a new administration and Congress in Washington.

“What’s more, it’s really too early to definitively answer the question of whether Medicaid expansion makes people healthier in the long run. Expansions are only a few years old. But for Rebekah Gee, who is Louisiana’s health and human services secretary, the dashboard makes one thing completely clear. ‘This shows that there is a demand for care,’ she says, ‘and we do have the supply for it.”’

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