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Study: Medicaid Expansion *Drove Up* ER Visits!

From the Associated Press:

Study finds Medicaid expansion drove up ER visits

By JONATHAN J. COOPER | January 2, 2014

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A new study has found that people enrolled recently in Medicaid went to the emergency room 40 percent more frequently than others, often seeking help for conditions that could be treated less expensively in a doctor’s office or an urgent care clinic.

The research, published Thursday by the journal Science, comes as millions of Americans gain health insurance this week under the federal health care law, many of them through Medicaid.

The findings help inform a long-running debate about the effect of expanding Medicaid and suggest that hospitals and health officials around the nation should be prepared for an increase in emergency room trips in the coming months.

BS. There was no debate. We have always been told we needed to do Obama-Care and it concomitant expansion of Medicaid because it would would reduce visits to ER rooms and save untold trillions of dollars.

The study is the third to arise from a limited expansion of Medicaid in Oregon five years ago. Demand exceeded the available funding, so the state used a lottery to randomly choose people for coverage from a waiting list. The lottery created two groups of similar people, one consisting of new Medicaid patients, the other a comparison group of people who weren’t selected. It gave scientists a rare chance to evaluate the program in a randomized, controlled study — the gold-standard for scientific research.

Taken together with the earlier findings, the latest research indicates that expanding Medicaid improves mental health and leaves patients more financially stable in the first two years. But it increases spending for hospitals, primary care and prescriptions and doesn’t produce significant improvements in measures of physical health like blood pressure or cholesterol…

Researchers used hospital records to look at ER use over 18 months for 25,000 people in the Portland area who entered the Medicaid lottery, some who were chosen for coverage and some who were not. Patients with Medicaid made, on average, 1.43 ER visits, compared with 1.02 for those who lost the lottery, an increase of 40 percent.

The study also found that 35 percent of people who weren’t selected for Medicaid made an ER visit during the research period. For those who gained coverage, however, the number was 7 points higher at 42 percent.

Men were more likely than women to have additional ER visits, but there was no racial, age or other groups that saw a statistically significant decrease in ER usage among the people selected for Medicaid…

Alissa Robbins, a spokeswoman for Oregon’s Medicaid agency, said the state is aggressively working to reduce Medicaid costs — an effort that began after the period studied. The state has created incentives for doctors, hospitals and mental health providers, and some are targeting frequent ER users…

Again, one of the supposed benefits of Obama-Care was to reduce ER visits.

"Increasing coverage and seeing people use more medical care isn’t necessarily a bad thing," said Dr. Renee Hsia, an associate professor of emergency medicine at University of California San Francisco and a health policy researcher who wasn’t involved in the study but reviewed it for Science…

You see? More people going to ERs instead of regular doctors is not a bad thing at all.

But why did we do Obama-Care in the first place?

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Friday, January 3rd, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Study: Medicaid Expansion *Drove Up* ER Visits!”

  1. No, seriously?

    (this is my shocked face)

  2. bousquem25

    I’ve known for years that the people on medicaid use the ER services much more than others. I used to work in a hospital while in pharmacy school as a tech and intern. My med delivery rounds used to cover the ER and starting about 8am until maybe midnight the ER would be packed and alot of them were medicaid patients for minor things that they should have been going to see their primary care provider about. The issue in that was that one area hospital told their PCPs to send any sick cases who weren’t routine appointments to the ER. The other hospital was in a more inner city location and would get people coming in for difficulty breathing despite not filling their prescriptions for an inhaler which were like $2 with medicaid for adults, free for those under 18. That ER even had a separate area for basically crap the PCPs should have been seeing and other low grade crap but it was free care, a free ambulance ride to the ER and a free taxi home with their entire posse/clan. Of course the taxpayer was on the hook for their ambulance ride. Also with their medicaid they couldn’t find a specialist to take them so they came to the ER for their refills of prescriptions. A dermatologist is not taking medicaid which pays squat when they have people with real insurance (then) or paying cash.


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