Understanding the Medicaid Expansion Debate

There is a lot of discussion taking place regarding Governor Brandstad’s position on Medicaid vs. IowaCare and what the future holds. Wayne County Hospital supports Medicaid expansion. Our public policy agenda calls for efforts to control health care costs, while also maintaining high quality of care for the citizens of our community. We frequently hear from our constituents about the need to address the rising costs of health care coverage. Currently the cost of our state’s uninsured is borne by employers, hospitals systems and all of our region’s citizens in the form of higher health insurance costs. Responsible Medicaid coverage presents a real opportunity to bend the health care cost curve by moving individuals into appropriate, lower-cost settings.

Multiple studies have shown that uninsured patients too often utilize expensive emergency department settings as their primary access point for health care. These individuals often delay seeking treatment until their health has significantly deteriorated, leading to much higher health care costs. Other studies from across the nation show Medicaid expansion would create a huge economic impact, on par with bringing in a multi-million dollar business. Yet, to forgo expansion would mean, among other things, more expensive private insurance premiums and continued inefficient use of emergency room resources by the uninsured. “The Medicaid expansion would provide more adequate coverage of individuals currently not eligible for Medicaid,” commented Denise Hook, CFO Wayne County Hospital