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Harvard study correlates more Medicaid coverage with lower death rates

July 26, 2012
by By Dennis Grantham, Editor-in-Chief
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A 10 year study of three states that expanded their Medicaid programs since 2000 finds lower mortality rates for those aged 35 to 64

A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine that compared three states that expanded Medicaid eligibility for childless adults aged 19-64 since 2000 with neighboring states that had not found that the states with expanded eligibility had significant declines in mortality.

The 10 study, which considered key measurements five years before and five years after each expansion, found that in the three states that expanded coverage since 2000—New York, Maine, and Arizona—adjusted rates of “all causes” mortality dropped 6.1 percent, or by a rate of 19.6 deaths per 100,000 relative to the comparison states (Pennsylvania—for New York, New Hampshire—for Maine), and Nevada and New Mexico—for Arizona).

The mortality reductions were greatest among nonwhites and older adults and in counties with higher poverty rates.  Mortality rate reductions among whites were lower but still statistically significant.  There was no reduction in mortality observed for persons under the age of 35.

The study’s summary conclusions stated:  “State Medicaid expansions to cover low-income adults were significantly associated with reduced mortality as well as improved coverage, access to care, and self-reported health.”