The 3-minute story behind Medicaid expansion

The Medicaid expansion is one of the major levers to accomplish coverage expansion—one of three goals under the Affordable Care Act.

The Medicaid expansion makes for great political theatre, but there's a real story behind the drama: If, when, and how states choose to expand Medicaid has huge ripple effects on providers and patients.

Originally, Obamacare required that every state expand its Medicaid program to Americans who made up to 138% of the federal poverty level. That meant 17 million Americans would end up getting covered.

But the Supreme Court in June 2012 said that wasn't constitutional—that states got to choose whether they wanted to expand Medicaid or not.

The Medicaid split is helping create a 'Two Americas' of health care, with ripple effects for patients, providers, and health policy.

Our models show that hospitals in states that don't expand Medicaid will see a few percentage-point drop in their margins by 2021. For many, that could be the difference between being profitable, and being in the red.

The show's not over. Keep up to date on the Medicaid expansion and more health care hot topics.

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Where the states stand on Medicaid expansion