Improvements Through Medicaid Expansion

States that have adopted and implemented the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have seen patients with better access to healthcare and better outcomes for healthcare centers that offer treatment through the Medicaid System. A new study organized by the Commonwealth Fund shows that these States have higher rates of improved healthcare than states that have not adopted and implemented ACA.

Community Care Organizations 

Under the ACA, health centers that take Medicaid have received higher revenues and delivered more care to patients on the program. Such centers fall under the categories of Community health centers and federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs). There are 1,300 FQHCs in the US that function though 11,000 regular care centers. They serve underprivileged populations, and right now about one in every twelve Americans receives medical care from a FQHC. They play an important role in American healthcare, as they see many patients who would typically take up space in emergency rooms with non-emergent problems. The FQHCs are cheaper to run and therefore save taxpayer dollars from emergency room treatments. They also promote extra jobs and are all-around economically beneficial.

The ACA provides $11 million over a five-year period in increased funding for FQHCs, and as more Americans are eligible for Medicaid through Medicaid expansion, there’s been an increase in visits to FQHCs from this population. The study saw that “the increased Medicaid revenue that health centers in expansion states receive may help them improve the way they deliver care.” It also incentivizes them to offer more behavioral and nonmedical programs that the communities they serve need and will improve overall health in this population.

FQHCs and Medicaid expansion

FQHCs have been a positive development in American healthcare, and those that are in Medicaid expansion states have seen even better results than those that aren’t. There are thirty-seven states plus Washington D.C. that that adopted the expansion, and fourteen that haven’t.

These are some of the improvements that the Commonwealth Fund study documented at the FQHCs:

  1. 69% of states with expansion have seen an improvement in their financial activity, as opposed to only 41% of states that have not implemented the expansion.
  2. 76% of states with expansion said they were more capable of meeting their communities’ needs, while only 52% of states that have not implemented the expansion said that as well.
  3. 44% of centers in states with expansion give treatment for opioid use through medication-assisted treatment, the premier treatment, as opposed to only 25% of centers in non-expansion states.
  4. Health centers in expansion states are likely to be patient-centered, or to be value-driven in some other way.
  5. 79% of health centers in expansion states were reimbursed for meeting quality care requirements.

The findings of the report encourage the growth of Community health centers and federally-qualified health centers. While debate continues in Washington about the affordability and practicality of Obamacare, and newer measures may cut the percentage of eligible Medicaid patients, these developments may become negatively affected. If there are fewer eligible patients for FQHCs, they may lose revenues and become unable to deliver the higher quality care that is currently increasing.

Sinai Post Acute Care Center for Rehabilitation operates in New Jersey, a Medicaid expansion state.