The High Cost of Not Expanding Medicaid


While community health centers in states that chose to expand Medicaid under Obamacare benefit enormously from the law, health centers in states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid will be paying a high price for ideology.

Nationally, about 1,200 community health centers provide primary care services to nearly 21 million patients at 8,000 sites. About 36 percent of their patients in 2012 were uninsured and 39 percent were on Medicaid.

In the states that expanded Medicaid this year, the government and private insurance payments will lead to potential revenues of $2.1 billion in 2014 for the centers. That’s money the centers can use to pay physicians and nurses and also to expand services. But in the states that opted against expanding Medicaid, the centers will lose about $569 million in extra Medicaid funding, the study found.

According to the study conducted by George Washington University, 35 percent of all uninsured patients of community health centers in America can be found in just a handful states in the south where, as you might have guessed, Medicaid has not been expanded.

Furthermore, the study found that if all 50 states chose to expand Medicaid more than 5 million of the uninsured patients at community health centers would be covered.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Supreme Court allowed states to opt out of expanding Medicaid. Allowing millions of people to fall through the cracks was not the original design of the Affordable Care Act. Conservative challengers to the law built that.