How Has Medicaid Expansion Impacted Other States?

Apr 9, 2018

A sign extolling the views on the issue of Medicaid expansion is displayed along a roadway in Center Cross, Va. State Republicans are divided over whether to expand Medicaid to about 300,000 low-income adults.
Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

As Virginia considers expanding Medicaid this week, many people are looking to the experience of other states. Have any of the 33 states that expanded health insurance for the poor and the disabled come to regret the decision?

One argument you often hear in Richmond against expanding Medicaid is that it’s a budget buster. Opponents say projections about how many people will enroll are so flawed that costs go out of control. But Michael Cassidy at the Commonwealth Institute points to a recent study from the Brookings Institution that undercuts those arguments — finding that states that already expanded pretty much had costs under control because most of the projections were spot on.

"And for Virginia, the fact that this debate has been dragging on for years means that we are actually in a better position to have a deep understanding of who we are likely to see in our program and what the costs are.”

But Melissa Fausz at Americans for Prosperity says numbers from the federal government paint a different picture.

“When you’ve got states like Kentucky, Ohio, even Massachusetts trying to roll back eligibility or do other things to try to pull back on this program – that really doesn’t scream to me that Medicaid expansion is working and that it’s not a budget buster.”

Several states that expanded Medicaid have Republican governors and Republican-controlled legislatures. So far, none of them have reversed the program and denied coverage to people who live in poverty or with disabilities.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.