Americans for Prosperity Points to Oregon Data that Shows Medicaid Expansion Increases Emergency Room Usage, Contradicting Supporters

January 03, 2014

MANCHESTER – Americans for Prosperity – New Hampshire (AFP-NH) today pointed to a new Harvard University study that shows that expanding Medicaid increases the usage of emergency departments by 40%, directly contradicting supporters of the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called ObamaCare.  Throughout the discussions of expansion in New Hampshire, proponents have consistently stated that accepting this provision of ObamaCare would result in lower usage of emergency room visits.

“Throughout the debate over expanding Medicaid under ObamaCare here in New Hampshire, supporters said that it would clear emergency rooms, while those who understand economics knew that it would simply increase waiting times.  The study proves that we were right and they could not have been more wrong,” said Greg Moore, AFP-NH State Director.  “Expanding Medicaid means that all New Hampshire residents will have to wait longer to see a doctor in an emergency for them or their family.  It’s time for Governor Hassan to walk away from this failed ObamaCare policy and start focusing on plans to bring real transformation to the Medicaid program and stop trying to sell more tickets onto the Titanic.”

Among the findings of the Harvard study was a dramatic increase in unnecessary emergency room visits.  As clearly laid out by health care expert Avik Roy, this is a result of the fact that under federal Medicaid law, Medicaid beneficiaries cannot be charged anything but minimal co-payments and no deductibles for care.

“Private insurers learned decades ago that the way to stop unnecessary emergency room visits was through significant co-payments and deductibles, but the Medicaid program cannot use these disincentives to inappropriately using high-cost services,” added Moore.  “It’s unfortunate that it takes a study like this to prove to ObamaCare supporters that basic economics still apply to health care.  Perhaps this will help them understand that the free market works and free lunches don’t.”

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