What does states' refusal to expand Medicaid mean for Southerners?
This week the White House Council of Economic Advisers released "Missed Opportunities: The Consequences of State Decisions Not to Expand Medicaid," a report examining the effect of states' decisions on whether to expand Medicaid, the government health care program for low-income people and people with disabilities. The Affordable Care Act gives states the option of extending Medicaid to all non-elderly individuals in families with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
As of this week, 26 states and the District of Columbia have taken advantage of the option to expand their Medicaid programs. But only two states in the South -- Kentucky and West Virginia -- have opted for Medicaid expansion. The other 11 states that Facing South counts as part of the region -- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia -- have opted against expansion.
This is problematic since the South has the highest portion of uninsured residents among U.S. regions, and since Southerners are more likely to report having poor health.
How might life be different for Southerners if their states were to exercise the option of expanding Medicaid? Here's what the report found:
* 1,003,000 more Southerners would have a place to receive clinic care;
* 483,000 more Southerners would get the care they feel they need for the year;
* 338,000 fewer Southerners would experience depression;
* 189,000 fewer Southerners would experience catastrophic out-of-pocket costs in a typical year; and
* 600,000 fewer Southerners would have trouble paying other bills due to their high medical bills.
To read the full report and see the breakdowns for the state where you live, click here.
Sue is the editorial director of Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies.