October 22, 2014

UNMC study indicates Nebraska would benefit from Medicaid expansion (AUDIO)

A study conducted by the policy arm of the University of Nebraska Medical Center concludes that the cost of expanding Medicaid would be more than offset by its economic return to Nebraska.

Center for Health Policy Director Jim Stimpson with UNMC says the study projects 90,021 to 108,025 Nebraskans would be added to the Medicaid rolls if expanded under provisions of the federal healthcare law. The cost of expansion would range from $140 million to $168 million from 2014 to 2020. The United States Supreme Court in June upheld the constitutionality of the law, but made expansion of Medicaid optional.

Stimpson, who is also an associate professor in the UNMC College of Public Health, says the study calculates the benefits of expansion.

“The benefit of expansion is cutting the number of uninsured in half, with the federal government picking up most of the cost,” Stimpson tells Nebraska Radio Network.

The Center for Health Policy study expects the state to receive between $2.9 billion to $3.5 billion through 2020 in federal funding if it expands Medicaid. It projects the extra federal funding would generate at least $700 million in economic activity, which would potentially create 10,000 jobs. It estimates that between $163 million and $325 million in uncompensated care would be saved. It is believed that 217,000 Nebraskans do not have health insurance.

Stimpson understands the study wades in to controversial political waters.

“I hope that this report is seen as facts that can be used by stakeholders, including our elected officials, to make this very important decision,” Stimpson says. “And this is only one piece of the evidence. I think that there’s more research that needs to be done.”

Gov. Dave Heineman opposes expanding Medicaid. He suggests that the federal government would renege on its promise to pay 90% of the bill, sticking the states with increased costs.

Under the federal healthcare law, states may expand Medicaid to cover individuals making up to 133% of the federal poverty level. The federal government pays the entire cost of expansion the first three years, dropping down to 90% in later years.

PDF of Medicaid expansion study

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]

AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Center for Health Policy Director Jim Stimpson on Medicaid study. [10 min.]