Last week’s midterm election in the United States was full of drama and close contests, but voters in three states easily passed measures to expand Medicaid coverage for lower-income patients.
Because these ballot questions were approved, several hundred thousand people could gain access to Medicaid coverage. Medicaid has long been a program that states and the federal government provide to people who earn less than the “poverty level” and meet certain other requirements. Through the Affordable Care Act, states received incentives to extend Medicaid health care benefits to people who earn a bit more than the federal poverty level – about 138 percent - because they, too, may have difficulty affording health insurance and medical care.
Idaho, Nebraska and Utah all voted to extend Medicaid coverage on November 6, bringing the total to 37 states (including the District of Columbia), which have taken this option to provide health care to people with lower household incomes. However, voters rejected a Medicaid expansion measure in Montana, where it was tied to a tax increase on tobacco products.
Patient advocacy organizations, such as the National Hemophilia Foundation, would like to see Medicaid expansion adopted in all states. Medicaid expansion has been found to decrease the number of uninsured people and increase access to care, according to multiple studies. CSL Behring, which researches and manufactures therapies for rare disease patients, supports this trend to insure more Americans.
“The expansion of Medicaid provides an additional avenue for insurance access, especially for those with rare and chronic diseases,” said Patrick Collins, CSL Behring’s Senior Director of Healthcare Policy and External Affairs.
And if you want to understand the difference between Medicaid, an assistance program intended to help people who have lower household incomes, and Medicare, a health insurance program for people 65 and older, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides an explanation on its website.