Medicaid has made headlines in recent weeks as a major target in the “repeal & replace” efforts against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. 

With the withdrawal of the intended replacement, the American Health Care Act (ACHA), in late March, just before a congressional vote on repeal, the ACA was left in place for the near future, allowing for Medicaid expansion to continue.

Initial Results of Medicaid Expansion

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As of March 2017, 31 states and the District of Columbia have already signed legislation to expand Medicaid, with at least 2 more states poised to do the same.1,2 Under Medicaid expansion beginning in 2014, 11.7 million people signed up for coverage through the healthcare marketplace, and in 2015, 12.2 million more signed up for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.3

A 2015 study of self-reported outcomes to ACA coverage showed that compared with the pre-ACA period, there was significant improvement in all categories, including access to and ability to afford coverage, access to primary care and medications, and health status.4 The benefits from the ACA were most pronounced among minority groups.4

A more recent investigation by Miller and Wherry,5 reporting in the March 9, 2016, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, indicated that during the 2 years after initiation of Medicaid expansion across 29 states and Washington, DC, uninsured rates declined significantly compared with in states that did not expand coverage (difference-in-differences estimate, −8.2 percentage points; P <.001).

The study looked at health data collected from the National Health Interview Survey of 60,766 participants aged 19 to 64 years, with incomes less than 138% of the federal poverty level. 

Patients in expansion states were less likely to report inability to afford follow-up care and concern about paying medical bills (difference-in-differences estimate, −3.4 percentage points [P =.002] and −7.9 percentage points [=.002], respectively).

This article originally appeared on Infectious Disease Advisor