Medicaid Reduction Tied to Increased Infant Mortality, Medical Debt

Quartz reports that “More infants are dying in US states that rejected expanded Medicaid.”

The post notes that “things have been improving over the past few years in the US. According to data published recently in the American Journal of Public Health, infant mortality has fallen from 6.7 deaths per 1,000 births in 2010 to 5.9 in 2016.”

However, there’s a big “but…”

“But those gains haven’t been evenly distributed across states, and now there’s an alarming trend showing that, in some states, infant mortality is actually on the rise again,” Quartz states.

Indeed, in states that rejected expanding Medicaid benefits, the infant mortality rates have increased

Quartz writes: “In 2014, many of the reforms of the Affordable Care Act went into effect, including the expansion of Medicaid, which states could decide to opt into or not. In the 34 states (plus the District of Columbia) that chose to opt in, average infant mortality rates continued the nationwide downward trend, dropping from 5.9 per 1,000 births in 2014 to 5.6 in 2016. But in the states that did not adopt expanded Medicaid, infant mortality rates stopped falling, and started to rise, going from 6.4 in 2014 to 6.6 in 2016. One particularly troubling example is Wyoming, which had one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the nation in 2015 at 4.9 deaths per 1,000 births. In 2017, that rate had risen to 5.7.”

Of course, these statistics also relate inversely with another important outcome connected to Medicaid expansion: It helps reduce medical debt.

NPR reported  that “A study from the Urban Institute may shed some light on why Medicaid eligibility remains a pressing problem: medical debt.” It notes that personal debts related to health care “remain far higher in states that didn’t expand Medicaid.”


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