Benefits of Expanding Medicaid through BadgerCare
Long before COVID and now with the pandemic, too many Wisconsinites do not have access to quality, affordable health care. However, Wisconsin can significantly reduce that problem and save money at the same time by using available federal funding to make more low-income adults eligible for BadgerCare.
Here are the Reasons Why Wisconsin Should Accept the Federal Funding to expand Medicaid and Cover More Parents and Childless Adults in BadgerCare:
Expanding BadgerCare would lead to more low-income adults having a personal physician, getting check-ups and other preventive care, and getting regular care for chronic conditions. It would also increase the number of people getting medicaid-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders and greater access to mental health.
Strong Response to COVID
The other 37 states that have expanded Medicaid were far better positioned to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and prevent the resulting economic downturn from worsening access to care, financial security, health outcomes, and health disparities. Unfortunately, in states like Wisconsin, the refusal to expand has left hundreds of thousands of essential workers without health coverage. Many low-income workers in these jobs are not offered job-based coverage or can’t afford the premiums for it. Medicaid is a crucial source of health coverage for workers whose jobs may require them to show up for work during the pandemic regardless of public health restrictions, such as hospital workers, home health aides, food manufacturers, grocery store workers, farm workers, pharmaceutical manufacturer and pharmacy workers, bus drivers and truck drivers, and warehouse workers.
The disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of color have exposed and compounded underlying racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. These disparities include longstanding higher uninsured rates among people of color that contribute to barriers to care and, ultimately, worse health outcomes. Extending health coverage to more low-income people is an important way to reduce health disparities between people of color and others in the United States. In states like Wisconsin that have not adopted the Medicaid expansion, poor adults with incomes below the federal poverty level fall into a coverage gap because they remain ineligible for Medicaid but earn too little to qualify for premium tax credits for qualified health plans in the Marketplace. More than one-quarter of uninsured adults who would be eligible for Medicaid if all states expanded are people of color
Powerful Economic Recovery Opportunity
Expanding Medicaid is a highly effective form of economic stimulus. An often-overlooked benefit of Medicaid expansion is that it creates jobs. During a recession, the infusion of federal spending gives a boost to the state economy. Evidence from the Great Recession shows that Medicaid spending is a highly effective form of stimulus: for every $100 000 of additional federal Medicaid spending, workers gained a year of employment With their economies crashing, states should not overlook these benefits.
Improves Health Outcomes
Medicaid expansion ranks with other major public health interventions in terms of saving lives. By expanding BadgerCare in Wisconsin, we would reduce premature deaths among older adults and make improvements in overall self-reported health. With more access to affordable care, we would see reductions in share of low-income adults screening positive for depression, improved diabetes and hypertension control, and increases in early-stage cancer diagnosis.
Improves Financial Security
Expanding Medicaid helps low-income families’ health and financial well-being, especially those in which someone has lost a job. In states that expanded Medicaid, unemployed workers experienced large gains in coverage. These gains improved access to medical care, reducing forgone care. Better access translates into better health and lower mortality. Moreover, there are spillover benefits for economic well-being: lower debt and better credit scores. Physical health and financial health are inextricably linked. Expanding Medicaid improves both for low-income families.