This week’s study of Oregon Medicaid recipients has quickly become a Rorschach test for how partisans and health policy wonks view the health care law.
To recap, that study compared the health care of the winners and losers of a lottery held by Oregon in 2008 to decide who could enroll in the limited spots in the state’s Medicaid program. The study’s nuanced results were reflected in the varied headlines in news stories. The Associated Press declared “Depression rates for uninsured dropped with Medicaid coverage” while Bloomberg News announced that “Medicaid coverage may not improve the health of poor in U.S.”
Bloggers took the discrepancies and ran with them.
The liberal Daily Kos, like many supporters of the health law, focuses on the finding that people with Medicaid were less likely to have crippling medical bills:
That’s the point of health insurance: You get it for the peace of mind of knowing that catastrophic illness won’t ruin you physically and financially. That shouldn’t be reserved just for people lucky enough to a) have job-related health benefits, b) have enough money to buy their own insurance.
The libertarian Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon says the study‘s lack of definitive proof of improved health should give governors more reason to turn down the law’s Medicaid expansion:
The Obama administration has been trying to convince states to throw more than a trillion additional taxpayer dollars at Medicaid by participating in the expansion, when the best-designed research available cannot find any evidence that it improves the physical health of enrollees. The [researchers] even studied the most vulnerable part of the Medicaid-expansion population – those below 100 percent of the federal poverty level – yet still found no improvements in physical health.