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ACA and Healthcare Reform

Study Finds States With Expanded Medicaid Experiencing Bump In ER Volume

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — (Mealey’s) States with expanded Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) saw a threefold increase in emergency-department visits over nonexpansion states in the second quarter of 2014, according to a Sept. 8 study. 

(This story is an excerpt from Mealey's Affordable Care Act Report.  For information on how to subscribe to this new monthly report, please contact your LexisNexis account representative or call 800-223-1940.)

Expansion states saw a 5.6 percent increase in emergency department visits, while nonexpansion states saw only a 1.8 percent increase, according to the study. 

The study’s authors, the Colorado Hospital Association, said the 5.6 percent increase was “greater than expected from the variation over the last two years.” 

In addition, visits to emergency departments from Medicaid enrollees in expansion states increased almost 9 percent in the second quarter, according to the study.  That rise was well off the first quarter rate of 24 percent, according to the study. 

Nonexpansion states also saw a rise in Medicaid charges and a decline in self-paying customers, according to the report. 

“This unexpected Medicaid growth in hospitals in non-expansion states did not appear in first-quarter 2014 and is likely due to the ‘woodwork effect,’ where previously unenrolled but eligible individuals discover they are eligible for Medicaid,” according to the report. 

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