WISCONSIN – Today, Governor Tony Evers once again called for the state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. For more than a decade, Wisconsin Republicans have refused to do so, ensuring Wisconsin would pay more to cover fewer people through the popular BadgerCare program.
Medicaid has been proven to increase access to care, improve financial security, and produce better health outcomes. Today, more than 1 million Wisconsinites receive their coverage through Medicaid, a pillar of the American health care system. 

Medicaid expansion is essential to ensure every American has quality, affordable health coverage. Despite the overwhelming benefits of Medicaid expansion, Republicans in Wisconsin have spent years undermining the ACA and its expansion of Medicaid at every turn, blocking 87,000 from coverage. Yet the program has become increasingly popular among conservative voters. 75 percent of Americans have a favorable view toward the Medicaid program, and 61 percent of Americans in non-expansion states favor expansion. 

Research confirms that Medicaid expansion saves lives and drastically reduces racial health disparities. States that expanded their Medicaid programs saw a 51 percent reduction in the gap between uninsured white and Black adults after expansion, and a 45 percent reduction between white and Hispanic adults. Medicaid has also served as a lifeline during the pandemic, with research showing expansion states were better positioned to handle the economic fallout from COVID-19. However you approach it, Medicaid is an essential component of American life and more important than ever. 

A Closer Look At Medicaid Across Wisconsin:

87,000 Wisconsinites Would Gain Coverage If The State Expanded Medicaid. The ACA provides generous funding to states to expand their Medicaid coverage and provide quality coverage to millions of Americans, but Republican leaders in Wisconsin have refused expansion. If Wisconsin had accepted Medicaid expansion, 87,000 Wisconsinites would be covered by Medicaid. Research confirms that Medicaid expansion increases access to care, improves financial security, and leads to better health outcomes

Medicaid Expansion In Wisconsin Would Save Lives. Between 2014 and 2017, Wisconsin’s rejection of Medicaid expansion cost an estimated 576 lives in adults aged 55 to 64. States that accepted expansion saved the lives of more than 19,000 older adults over the same period. 

Reduced Racial Disparities In Coverage And Access. Increasing Medicaid access is the single most important action available to expand coverage and reduce racial inequities in the American health care system. The ACA led to historic reductions in racial disparities in access to health care, but racial gaps in insurance coverage narrowed the most in states that adopted Medicaid expansion. States that expanded their Medicaid programs saw a 51 percent reduction in the gap between uninsured white an Black adults after expansion, and a 45 percent reduction between white and Hispanic adults. 60 percent of Americans who would gain coverage if the remaining 12 hold out states expanded Medicaid are people of color. 

Reduced Medical Debt. Access to Medicaid means access to high quality coverage and extremely low cost sharing, without the premiums. As a result, Medicaid eliminates the types of medical costs that can lead to unpaid bills and medical debt. Over the past decade, research has shown the gap in medical debt between Medicaid expansion and holdout states has grown approximately 30 percent. In 2020, Americans living in holdout states carried an average of $375 more in medical debt than their counterparts in expansion states.

Medicaid Expansion Reduces Uncompensated Care Costs. Through lower premiums and expanded Medicaid, there has been a profound reduction in uncompensated care costs, which are often the direct result of individuals who are un-or-underinsured. Compared to 2013, hospitals’ uncompensated care costs decreased by more than $14 billion in 2017, or 26 percent. Medicaid expansion plays a large role in reducing uncompensated care costs. When Louisiana expanded Medicaid in 2016, it experienced a 33 percent reduction in uncompensated care costs as a share of total operating expenses among hospitals, with a 55 percent reduction for rural hospitals.

Medicaid Expansion Helps Rural Hospitals Stay Open. Rural communities already faced persistent disparities in health outcomes prior to the pandemic. Issues such as limited access to care, higher rates of uninsured Americans, and health care workforce shortages that existed before COVID, intensified over the past two years. Rural hospital closures are associated with a 6 percent increase in death rates in surrounding counties. Rural hospitals in Medicaid expansion states are 62 percent less likely to close.

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