A recent study shows a correlation between the lack of Medicaid expansion and healthcare inequalities in low-income communities, particularly among Latinos.
Families in the US are struggling to get by. More than 3.88 million Latino parents and 1.83 million Latino children do not have health insurance in the US. Expanding Medicaid would help close the coverage gap for uninsured Latino families. However, Republican lawmakers are refusing to support Medicaid expansion.
Medicaid is a federal and state program that provides healthcare coverage for some people with limited income and resources. But whether someone qualifies for Medicaid varies from state to state.
Some states have expanded their Medicaid programs to cover all people with household incomes below a certain level. Others haven’t—and no law enforces state officials to expand Medicaid to everyone.
On June 26, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act would remain intact and save healthcare coverage for millions of Americans. While this may have been a loss for Republicans, they are pushing to have their way by not expanding Medicaid coverage in several states, and that’s because, in 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that Medicaid eligibility would be optional for states.
President Joe Biden’s way of helping states expand their Medicaid coverage to more low-income people was to include the expansion in his American Rescue Plan (ARP). However, as of now, 12 states are refusing to expand Medicaid. Those states are Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
A recent study shows a correlation between the lack of Medicaid expansion and healthcare inequalities in low-income communities, particularly Black and Latino families.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation released a report on June 21 that ranks children’s well-being in each state, from 1 to 50, with 50 being the lowest. The states that ranked the worst for Latino children’s education, health, economic well-being, family and community, and overall well-being are those states that refuse to expand Medicaid. Furthermore, the report shows that the COVID-19 crisis exacerbated the inequality among low-income families, with Black and Latino kids and families grappling the most.
“People, including kids, who live in states that have Medicaid expansion are healthier, have better outcomes,” Dr. Norin Dollard from Florida KIDS COUNT said.
The report showed that Florida ranked 35 out of 50 for Latino kids’ well-being, and the state came in at 42 in terms of economic well-being. In addition, in Florida, almost 140,000 Latino children do not have insurance.
“We’ve always been in the 40s because of our high housing costs here in Florida,” Dr. Dollard said. “You know our employment is a service economy. People don’t make very much money here, so some kids live in poverty.”
In early 2021, Medicaid expansion advocates in Florida, Mississippi, and South Dakota were working towards possible expansion ballot measures for the 2022 election. This involves getting approval from the secretary of state and obtaining enough signatures from voters to get the measure on the ballot.
Florida Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor is pushing to get Medicaid expansion in the Sunshine State.
RELATED: Black, Latino Children Are Dying of COVID at Higher Rates. These Doctors Say Medicaid Expansion Can Help.
“There have been a number of studies that have demonstrated not only do you improve people’s health care, not only do you improve their access but, the state of Florida would gain billions of dollars and be able to fund additional services for our older neighbors such as services for those who are homebound, home care services,” Castor said.
Some might think that states cannot afford to adopt a Medicaid expansion, but Biden’s new provision under the ARP provides the financial resources that each state needs in order to cover those costs.
In other words, the funds for each state to cover a Medicaid expansion are already there—Republican lawmakers just need to say yes.