Oregon had a lottery to give Medicaid to some residents, and studied the result. Wingers are feeling good about their relentless poor-bashing because the study couldn’t conclude that Medicaid altered outcomes at the level needed to publish it as a scientifically valid finding. But, there’s this:
In fact, the study showed fairly substantial improvements in the percentage of patients with depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high glycated hemoglobin levels (a marker of diabetes). The problem is that the sample size of the study was fairly small, so the results weren’t statistically significant at the 95 percent level.
However, that is far, far different from saying that Medicaid coverage had no effect. It’s true that we can’t say with high confidence that it had an effect, but the most likely result is that it did indeed have an effect. The table below shows the point estimates. Note also that in all cases, the use of prescribed medication went up, in some cases by a lot.
Bottom line: It’s more likely that access to Medicaid did improve health outcomes than that it had zero or negative effects. It’s just that the study was too small to say that with certainty. For laymen, as opposed to stat geeks, the headline result of the Oregon study was “Possibly positive but inconclusive,” not “Had no effect.”
The general conservative position on Medicaid is a hot mess of contradiction and general stupidity. On the one hand, they want their uninsured almost-poor base to feel resentment towards the undeserving poors who are driving their welfare Cadillacs to the clinic every day to get some of that sweet, free Medicaid treatment that hard-working people can’t afford. On the other hand, since Medicaid is government-run healthcare, it is the devil’s spawn and can’t improve anyone’s well-being. Of course, Medicare exists on an ethereal plane completely separate from Medicaid. It is the God-given right of every freedom-loving American, provides excellent care and shiny new scooters, and must be kept away from the youngs, who would steal it from the olds if only they got a chance.