Catholic Health Association Welcomes Report on Medicaid Expansion, Encourages States to Increase Coverage and Boost Economies

WASHINGTON, DC (July 3, 2014) — The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) yesterday offered an important reminder of the need to expand Medicaid in all 50 states. In quantifying benefits of Medicaid expansion, the CEA provides compelling evidence that broadening Medicaid eligibility reflects broadly-held values, improves individual and public health, increases access to needed medical services, delivers a substantial economic boost to states and reduces uncompensated care, among other benefits.

The CEA's report, entitled "Missed Opportunities: The Consequences of State Decisions Not To Expand Medicaid," concludes that 1.4 million more people in the U.S. would have a usual source of care if Medicaid were expanded in the 24 states that have not yet done so as permitted by the Affordable Care Act. Hundreds of thousands would receive recommended preventive care such as cholesterol screenings and mammograms. In addition, Medicaid expansion offers greater financial security to individuals and families — an estimated 810,000 fewer people would struggle with medical bills if every state were to expand the program. Meanwhile, uncompensated care costs would decline as some 5.7 million people obtain coverage.

Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association, said: "The benefits of Medicaid expansion to individual health and wellness are obvious and impossible to ignore. This report is compelling evidence of the good that can be accomplished by the expansion of Medicaid. We are talking about many, very vulnerable people — including thousands of children, adults and unborn infants. We must not be silent in the face of this senseless suffering and denial of a basic human right. The refusal to expand Medicaid cannot be justified from any perspective. Eligible families are often made up of people who work more than one job, in many cases waiting on the rest of us and our families. Catholic social teaching and basic Judeo-Christian principles cry out for justice for these people."

Sr. Carol continued: "There is simply no credible reason or moral justification for obstructing their ability to achieve some health security. It is absolutely callous to block the expansion of Medicaid, and we who embrace Christian teaching need to remember one of Christ's core teachings, "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me!"

As the CEA data demonstrates, there is an economic incentive too: states that have not yet expanded Medicaid are leaving $88 billion on the table, money that improves coverage and access while fueling state economies.

According to CEA's analysis, the 24 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid "would have created an additional $66 billion in total economic activity through 2017" and helped create 184,000 jobs in 2015 alone. In  just one state — Florida, where Medicaid has not yet been expanded — 63,800 workers would be newly employed by 2017 as a result of opting to expand the program. "At a time when we are still in the midst of an economic recovery, the Medicaid expansion represents an excellent opportunity to stimulate state economies while smartly investing in the health of our communities," Sr. Carol said.

For these reasons, Sr. Carol concluded, "CHA strongly encourages the 24 remaining states to expand their Medicaid programs now. It is morally and economically irresponsible to reject this affordable opportunity to protect human dignity, improve public health and boost the economy. Instead, the 24 states currently hesitating to expand Medicaid should follow the lead of the 26 states that already see the medical and economic benefits of doing so."

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The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), founded in 1915, supports the Catholic health ministry's commitment to improve the health status of communities and create quality and compassionate health care that works for everyone. The Catholic health ministry is the nation's largest group of not-for-profit health systems and facilities that, along with their sponsoring organizations, employ more than 750,000 women and men who deliver services combining advanced technology with the Catholic caring tradition.

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