BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s 2016 decision to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income adults will save the lives of approximately 764 residents over four years, according to landmark new research. 

The Louisiana results are found in a new study that shows that Medicaid expansion has prevented 19,200 premature deaths nationwide. Conversely, the study by researchers at the University of Michigan and University of California Los Angeles found that 15,600 older adults died prematurely because of state decisions not to expand Medicaid. 

“We already knew that Medicaid expansion improved health outcomes by giving people access to medications, regular checkups and preventive services like mammograms and diabetes screenings,” said LBP executive director Jan Moller. “Now we know it can literally be a matter of life and death.”

The study measures a four-year timespan starting in 2014, when Medicaid expansion became available to states. Louisiana didn’t take advantage of the program until July 2016, but the authors were able to estimate the number of lives that would be saved by 2020 because of Medicaid expansion. 

In addition to saving lives, Medicaid expansion has made families more financially secure by eliminating catastrophic medical debt. This has important spillover effects, as another new study finds that evictions have fallen by about 20 percent in expansion compared to non-expansion states. 

“Medicaid expansion is the main reason Louisiana’s uninsured rate has been cut in half, and is now below the national average,” Moller said. “State officials should do everything in their power to protect and build on these historic gains.” 

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities will host a press briefing on the analysis of how Medicaid expansion has saved lives today (Wednesday) at 12 p.m. Members of the media can register here

An analysis of the new research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities can be found here

The study of expansion’s impact on premature deaths, by Sarah Miller, Sean Altekruse, Norman Johnson and Laura Wherry, can be found here