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HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Study finds that employment rate among disabled better in states that expanded Medicaid

According to a recent study, Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid coverage to people living just above the poverty line may be responsible for more disabled people getting jobs.

As Reuters Health reports, prior to passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obamacare, in 2010, people with disabilities and low income jobs were often unable to afford their expensive medical care. Many opted for unemployment in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

These were the findings in a report in the American Journal of Public Health.

Jean Hall, a health and disability policy research at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City and the University of Kansas in Lawrence, lead author of the report, said that while policy makers in states that have not expanded Medicaid often suggest doing so would increase some people’s dependence on public insurance, therefore discouraging them from working at jobs that provide insurance through their employers.

“Our results show just the opposite for people with disabilities, who are much more likely to work in states that expand Medicaid,” Hall said, in an email to Reuters Health.

States were given the option to expand Medicaid’s coverage under the ACA in 2014, allowing people earning up t138 percent of the poverty rate to receive Medicaid coverage.

In the 19 states that opted not to expand Medicaid, the earnings limit for people with disabilities is 85 percent of the poverty rate, or $834 dollars per month, Hall’s team writes.

Researchers used data from a nationwide quarterly phone survey that was conducted 10 times between 2013 and 2015 to examine how employment rates among people with disabilities was affected by Medicaid expansion and found that 38 percent of people with disabilities living in states with expanded Medicaid were working, compared to 32 percent in non-expansion states.