KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Oregon Study Offers Insights Into Reach Of Health Law’s Medicaid Expansion

The landmark study, which appears in The New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed data from the Oregon Health Study, which compared low-income people in that state who had access to Medicaid with a similar population that did not. The findings offer insights into how Medicaid coverage affects overall health and health costs.

The New York Times: Medicaid Access Increases Use of Care, Study Finds
Come January, millions of low-income adults will gain health insurance coverage through Medicaid in one of the farthest-reaching provisions of the Obama health care law. How will that change their finances, spending habits, use of available medical services and — most important — their health? New results from a landmark study, released on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, go a long way toward answering those questions. The study, called the Oregon Health Study, compares thousands of low-income people in Oregon who received access to Medicaid with an identical population that did not (Lowrey, 5/1).

NPR: Second Thoughts On Medicaid From Oregon's Unique Experiment
Two years ago, a landmark study found that having Medicaid health insurance makes a positive difference in people's lives....Now the researchers have dug a little deeper into their data, and the new results, published in the latest New England Journal of Medicine, are not quite as uniformly positive. "We don't see any improvements in this window in hypertension, high cholesterol or diabetes," said Katherine Baicker, a health economist (Rovner, 5/1).

Los Angeles Times: Medicaid Has Mixed Record On Improving Health For The Poor, Study Says 
As state leaders debate whether to expand their Medicaid programs next year under President Obama's healthcare law, new research suggests the government insurance plan for the poor has only a mixed record of improving health. Medicaid beneficiaries are less likely than the uninsured to have catastrophic medical expenses and significantly less likely to suffer from depression, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found (Levey, 5/1).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Study: Depression Rates For Uninsured Dropped With Medicaid Rates
If you're uninsured, getting on Medicaid clearly improves your mental health, but it doesn't seem to make much difference in physical conditions such as high blood pressure. The counterintuitive findings by researchers at Harvard and MIT, from an experiment involving low-income, able-bodied Oregonians, appear in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. The study offers a twist for states weighing a major Medicaid expansion under President Barack Obama's health care law, to serve a similar population of adults around the country (5/1).

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: Study: Medicaid Reduces Financial Hardship, Doesn't Quickly Improve Physical Health
The research uses data from Oregon, where the state held a lottery among low-income adults in 2008 for a limited Medicaid expansion. Of the 90,000 people who applied, 10,000 ultimately gained coverage. The lottery gave researchers a unique opportunity to conduct the first randomized experiment on Medicaid coverage, by studying those who gained insurance through the lottery and comparing them against a similar group of adults who did not (Kliff, 5/1).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Expanding Medicaid Didn't Lead To Big Health Gains In Oregon, Study Finds
Although expanding Medicaid coverage to some low-income Oregon residents substantially improved their mental health and reduced financial strains on them, it didn't significantly boost their physical health, according to a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine (Tran, 5/1).

Medpage Today: Study: Medicaid Expansion Won’t Help All Aspects Of Health
Among those accepted into the program, depression fell substantially compared with those still on the waitlist, a 9 percentage point difference in prevalence at 2 years (P=0.02), Katherine Baicker, PhD, of Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues found. But there were no decreases in rate of uncontrolled blood pressure, glucose, or cholesterol in the newly-covered group, the researchers reported in the May 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Still, use of many preventive services improved and catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenses were nearly eliminated with coverage (Phend, 5/1).

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