By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Low-income people in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are much more likely to forgo needed medical care than the poor in other states, according to a government report released Monday amid election debates from Georgia to Utah over coverage for the needy.
The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office worked with the National Center for Health Statistics to analyze federal survey data from 2016. The research focused on low-income adults ages 19-64 in states that did not expand Medicaid under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, compared to their peers in states that did.
Medicaid expansion is an issue in several high-profile gubernatorial contests and in states where supporters have gotten referendum questions on the ballot. Under the law, states may expand Medicaid for low-income people making up to roughly $16,750 for an individual or $34,640 for a family of four. Seventeen states have not adopted the expansion, opposed by many — but not all — Republicans.
Among the report’s findings:
—Nearly 20 percent of low-income people in states that did not expand Medicaid said they passed up needed medical care in the past 12 months because they couldn’t afford it. That compared to 9.4 percent in states that expanded the program.
—About 8 percent of those in states that did not expand Medicaid reported they either skipped medication doses to save money or took less medication than prescribed. That compared to about 5 percent in states that expanded. For people with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma, staying on a medication schedule is considered essential.