Health Care Systems and Services

Post-ACA, More Than One-third Of Women with Prenatal Medicaid Remained Uninsured Before or After Pregnancy

Since the early 1990s, Medicaid has been critical in providing insurance coverage for pregnant women with low incomes in the United States - pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage is available to women with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level in most states. Because pregnancy-related Medicaid eligibility is almost always more generous than eligibility for other adults, many women with low incomes not otherwise eligible for Medicaid gain coverage during their pregnancies but then lose that coverage sixty days after delivery, when their pregnancy-related eligibility expires. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 included an option for states to extend Medicaid coverage for twelve months postpartum. While the ACA provided coverage improvements for pregnant women outside of pregnancy, especially in states expanding Medicaid, many low-income women remain uninsured before or after their pregnancies. Building on existing studies tracking changes in Medicaid coverage and uninsurance under the law, researchers Emily M. Johnston, Stacey McMorrow, Clara Alvarez Caraveo and Lisa Dubay examined data for new mothers with Medicaid-covered prenatal care in this study published in Health Affairs.

Commentary

Research suggests that one in seven children in the United States have a diagnosable mental health condition. But despite efforts to increase access to care through school-based mental health services, most youth with a mental health condition do not receive the treatment they need. Telehealth services, however, have the potential to increase access to school-based mental health treatment by reducing districts’ need for on-site personnel—of which there is a national shortage—without compromising the quality of care. Therefore, states should consider maintaining the telehealth flexibilities they enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to improve access to critical school-based mental health services for youth, even after the public health emergency ends.

Medicaid Expansion Increased Preconception Health Counseling, Folic Acid Intake, and Postpartum Contraception

The period before pregnancy is critically important for the health of a woman and her infant, yet not all women have access to health insurance during this time. Rebecca Myerson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Samuel Crawford of the University of Southern California, and Laura R. Wherry of New York University evaluated whether increased access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansions affected ten preconception health indicators, including the prevalence of chronic conditions and health behaviors, birth control use and pregnancy intention, and the receipt of preconception health services.

Consequences of Work Requirements in Arkansas: Two-Year Impacts on Coverage, Employment, and Affordability of Care

Arkansas implemented Medicaid work requirements in June of 2018. To maintain coverage in the state, adults ages 30-49 were required to work 20 hours a week, participate in “community engagement” activities, or qualify for an exemption. By April 2019, when a federal judge halted the policy, more than 18,000 adults had lost coverage. As an update to research published in 2018, Benjamin D. Sommers, Lucy Chen, Robert J. Blendon, E. John Orav, and Arnold M. Epstein analyzed the policy effects before, during, and after implementation in this Health Affairs brief.

Assessment of Perceptions of the Public Charge Rule Among Low-Income Adults in Texas

A recent expansion of the federal “public charge” rule allows the government to deny immigrants permanent residency based on their income or health status or if they participate in programs that did not previously trigger the rule, such as Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program [SNAP]. Critics contend that this will dissuade individuals from participating in programs or obtaining medical care. In this JAMA Network Open paper, Benjamin D. Sommers, Heidi Allen, Aditi Bhanja, Robert J. Blendon, John Orav, and Arnold M. Epstein examine perceptions of the new public charge rule and its potential impacts on public program participation and medical care among low-income adults in Texas.

Does Private Insurance Provide More Medical Care?

Ten years after the passing of the Affordable Care Act—the most comprehensive health care reform of the past half-century—most of the previously uninsured continue to lack coverage. Policymakers and members of the public have expressed growing support for expanding the role of public financing of health care. The “public option” and “Medicare for All” have emerged as important contenders for health policy reform. Both policies are rooted in widening access to the lower prices of the public system to make health care more affordable for all.

Commentary

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which turns 10 on March 23, dramatically changed Medicaid, making it available to millions of previously ineligible low-income adults. As some states continue to debate whether to expand Medicaid and policymakers propose more far-reaching changes to the program, it is critical to provide timely evidence on how the program is working and what the potential effect of major changes would be.

Increasing Pre-Conception and Postpartum Medicaid Coverage

Birth outcomes, including infant mortality and low birth weight, are shockingly poor in the U.S. Researchers will assess whether the ACA increased intended pregnancies, reduced prepregnancy smoking, and affected contraception and birth outcomes among women covered by Medicaid--and whether these changes reduced disparities across racial and ethnic groups.

Medicaid Work Requirements: Results from the First Year in Arkansas

In June 2018, Arkansas became the first state to implement work requirements in Medicaid. Benjamin D. Sommers, Anna L. Goldman, Robert J. Blendon, E. John Orav, and Arnold M. Epstein of Harvard University provide the first independent assessment of early changes in beneficiary coverage and employment after the work requirements went into effect.

Cross-post

A new University of Michigan analysis reviews 46 studies evaluating interventions for "super-utilizers" of emergency department and prehospital care in the U.S. Here, the authors share their thoughts on the importance of their findings.