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Concept: Expansion team


Decisions by states about whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have implications for hospitals' financial health. We hypothesized that Medicaid expansion of eligibility for childless adults prevents hospital closures because increased Medicaid coverage for previously uninsured people reduces uncompensated care expenditures and strengthens hospitals' financial position. We tested this hypothesis using data for the period 2008-16 on hospital closures and financial performance. We found that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion was associated with improved hospital financial performance and substantially lower likelihoods of closure, especially in rural markets and counties with large numbers of uninsured adults before Medicaid expansion. Future congressional efforts to reform Medicaid policy should consider the strong relationship between Medicaid coverage levels and the financial viability of hospitals. Our results imply that reverting to pre-ACA eligibility levels would lead to particularly large increases in rural hospital closures. Such closures could lead to reduced access to care and a loss of highly skilled jobs, which could have detrimental impacts on local economies.

Concepts: Health insurance, Hospital, Economics, Hypothesis, Medicaid, Health insurance in the United States, Closure, Expansion team


Under the Affordable Care Act, thirty states and the District of Columbia have expanded eligibility for Medicaid, with several states using Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance (the “private option”). Despite vigorous debate over the use of private insurance versus traditional Medicaid to provide coverage to low-income adults, there is little evidence on the relative merits of the two approaches. We compared the first-year impacts of traditional Medicaid expansion in Kentucky, the private option in Arkansas, and nonexpansion in Texas by conducting a telephone survey of two distinct waves of low-income adults (5,665 altogether) in those three states in November-December 2013 and twelve months later. Using a difference-in-differences analysis, we found that the uninsurance rate declined by 14 percentage points in the two expansion states, compared to the nonexpansion state. In the expansion states, again compared to the nonexpansion state, skipping medications because of cost and trouble paying medical bills declined significantly, and the share of individuals with chronic conditions who obtained regular care increased. Other than coverage type and trouble paying medical bills (which decreased more in Kentucky than in Arkansas), there were no significant differences between Kentucky’s traditional Medicaid expansion and Arkansas’s private option, which suggests that both approaches improved access among low-income adults.

Concepts: Medicine, United States, U.S. state, Native Americans in the United States, Southern United States, State, State of matter, Expansion team


One pillar of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was its expected impact on the growing burden of uncompensated care costs for the uninsured at hospitals. However, little is known about how this burden changed as a result of the ACA’s enactment. We examine how the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s coverage expansions affected uncompensated care costs at a large, diverse sample of hospitals. We estimate that in states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA, uncompensated care costs decreased from 4.1 percentage points to 3.1 percentage points of operating costs. The reductions in Medicaid expansion states were larger at hospitals that had higher pre-ACA uncompensated care burdens and in markets where we predicted larger gains in coverage through expanded eligibility for Medicaid. Our estimates suggest that uncompensated care costs would have decreased from 5.7 percentage points to 4.0 percentage points of operating costs in nonexpansion states if they had expanded Medicaid. Thus, while the ACA decreased the variation in uncompensated care costs across hospitals within Medicaid expansion states, the difference between expansion and nonexpansion states increased substantially. Policy makers and researchers should consider how the shifting uncompensated care burden affects other hospital decisions as well as the distribution of supplemental public funding to hospitals.

Concepts: Estimator, Affect, Percentage point, Health insurance in the United States, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Expansion team, Act of Congress, Uninsured in the United States


Changes in insurance coverage over time, or “churning,” may have adverse consequences, but there has been little evidence on churning since implementation of the major coverage expansions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014. We explored the frequency and implications of churning through surveying 3,011 low-income adults in Kentucky, which used a traditional expansion of Medicaid; Arkansas, which chose a “private option” expansion that enrolled beneficiaries in private Marketplace plans; and Texas, which opted not to expand. We also compared 2015 churning rates in these states to survey data from 2013, before the coverage expansions. Nearly 25 percent of respondents in 2015 changed coverage during the previous twelve months-a rate lower than some previous predictions. We did not find significantly different churning rates in the three states over time. Common causes of churning were job-related changes and loss of eligibility for Medicaid or Marketplace subsidies. Churning was associated with disruptions in physician care and medication adherence, increased emergency department use, and worsening self-reported quality of care and health status. Even churning without gaps in coverage had negative effects. Churning remains a challenge for many Americans, and policies are needed to reduce its frequency and mitigate its negative impacts.

Concepts: Health care, Health insurance, Rates, Change, Insurance, Rate, Surveying, Expansion team


Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act facilitates access to care among vulnerable populations, but 21 states have not yet expanded the program. Medicaid expansions may provide increased access to care for cancer survivors, a growing population with chronic conditions. We compare access to health care services among cancer survivors living in non-expansion states to those living in expansion states, prior to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Health insurance, Health, Cancer, Demography, Population, Expansion team


IMPORTANCE Medicaid enrollees typically report worse access to care than other insured populations. Expansions in Medicaid through less restrictive income eligibility requirements and the resulting influx of new enrollees may further erode access to care for those already enrolled in Medicaid. OBJECTIVE To assess the effect of previous Medicaid expansions on self-reported access to care and the use of emergency department services by Medicaid enrollees. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Quasi-experimental difference-in-differences design among 1714 adult Medicaid enrollees in 10 states that expanded Medicaid between June 1, 2000, and October 1, 2009, and 5097 Medicaid enrollees in 14 bordering control states that did not expand Medicaid. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Self-reported access to care and annualized emergency department use. RESULTS Among states expanding their Medicaid program for adults, the mean income eligibility level increased from 82.6% to 144.2% of the federal poverty level. Income eligibility in matched control states remained constant at 77.1% of the federal poverty level. The proportion of adults reporting being enrolled in Medicaid increased from 7.2% to 8.8% in expansion states and from 6.1% to 6.4% in matched control states. In Medicaid program expansion states, the proportion of Medicaid enrollees reporting poor access to care declined from 8.5% before the expansion to 7.3% after the expansion. In matched control states, the proportion of Medicaid enrollees reporting poor access to care remained constant at 5.3%. The proportion of enrollees reporting any emergency department use decreased from 41.2% to 40.1% in expansion states and from 37.3% to 36.1% in matched control states. In the period following expansions, newly eligible enrollees reported poorer access to care than previously enrolled beneficiaries, although the overall difference between groups did not reach statistical significance. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE We found no evidence that expanding the number of individuals eligible for Medicaid coverage eroded perceived access to care or increased the use of emergency services among adult Medicaid enrollees.

Concepts: Poverty, Report, Poverty in the United States, Effect size, Medicaid, Adult, Household income in the United States, Expansion team


The Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid in 2014 to millions of low-income adults in states that choose to participate in the expansion. Since 2010 California, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C., have taken advantage of the law’s option to expand coverage earlier to a portion of low-income childless adults. We present new data on these expansions. Using administrative records, we documented that the ramp-up of enrollment was gradual and linear over time in California, Connecticut, and D.C. Enrollment continued to increase steadily for nearly three years in the two states with the earliest expansions. Using survey data on the two earliest expansions, we found strong evidence of increased Medicaid coverage in Connecticut (4.9 percentage points; $$p ) and positive but weaker evidence of increased coverage in D.C. (3.7 percentage points; $$p=\mathbf{\boldsymbol{0.08}}$$). Medicaid enrollment rates were highest among people with health-related limitations. We found evidence of some crowd-out of private coverage in Connecticut (30-40 percent of the increase in Medicaid coverage), particularly for healthier and younger adults, and a positive spillover effect on Medicaid enrollment among previously eligible parents.

Concepts: Health care, U.S. state, Medicaid, Percentage point, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Expansion team


Dental coverage for adult enrollees is an optional benefit under Medicaid. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have expanded eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Millions of low-income adults have gained health care coverage and, in states offering dental benefits, oral health coverage as well. Using data for 2010 and 2014 from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, we examined the impact of Medicaid adult dental coverage and eligibility expansions on low-income adults' use of dental care. We found that low-income adults in states that provided dental benefits beyond emergency-only coverage were more likely to have had a dental visit in the past year, compared to low-income adults in states without such benefits. Among states that provided dental benefits and expanded their Medicaid program, regression-based estimates suggest that childless adults had a significant increase (1.8 percentage points) in the likelihood of having had a dental visit, while parents had a significant decline (8.1 percentage points). One possible explanation for the disparity is that after expansion, newly enrolled childless adults might have exhausted the limited dental provider capacity that was available to parents before expansion. Additional policy-level efforts may be needed to expand the dental care delivery system’s capacity.

Concepts: Health care, Health insurance, Health, Medicaid, Dentistry, Percentage point, Adult, Expansion team


Due to the GC-rich, repetitive nature of C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions, PCR based detection methods are challenging. Several limitations of PCR have been reported and overcoming these could help to define the pathogenic range. There is also a need to develop improved repeat-primed PCR assays which allow detection even in the presence of genomic variation around the repeat region. We have optimised PCR conditions for the C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion, using betaine as a co-solvent and specific cycling conditions, including slow ramping and a high denaturation temperature. We have developed a flanking assay, and repeat-primed PCR assays for both 3' and 5' ends of the repeat expansion, which when used together provide a robust strategy for detecting the presence or absence of expansions greater than ∼100 repeats, even in the presence of genomic variability at the 3' end of the repeat. Using our assays, we have detected repeat expansions in 47/442 Scottish ALS patients. Furthermore, we recommend the combined use of these assays in a clinical diagnostic setting.

Concepts: DNA, Developed country, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Assay, Detection theory, Enzyme assay, Expansion team, Repeat sign


As states continue to debate whether or not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a key consideration is the impact of expansion on the financial position of hospitals, including their burden of uncompensated care. Conclusive evidence from coverage expansions that occurred in 2014 is several years away. In the meantime, we analyzed the experience of hospitals in Connecticut, which expanded Medicaid coverage to a large number of childless adults in April 2010 under the ACA. Using hospital-level panel data from Medicare cost reports, we performed difference-in-differences analyses to compare the change in Medicaid volume and uncompensated care in the period 2007-13 in Connecticut to changes in other Northeastern states. We found that early Medicaid expansion in Connecticut was associated with an increase in Medicaid discharges of 7-9 percentage points, relative to a baseline rate of 11 percent, and an increase of 7-8 percentage points in Medicaid revenue as a share of total revenue, relative to a baseline share of 10 percent. Also, in contrast to the national and regional trends of increasing uncompensated care during this period, hospitals in Connecticut experienced no increase in uncompensated care. We conclude that uncompensated care in Connecticut was roughly one-third lower than what it would have been without early Medicaid expansion. The results suggest that ACA Medicaid expansions could reduce hospitals' uncompensated care burden.

Concepts: Health insurance, Medicaid, Health insurance in the United States, Meantime, Northeastern United States, Connecticut, Amtrak, Expansion team