Even in this Crisis, Medicaid Expansion Won’t Save Hospitals—Just Look to Vermont

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What would you do to save your local hospital?

That question is on the mind of many lawmakers in states struggling with whether or not to expand Medicaid to able-bodied adults under ObamaCare. Advocates of expansion have time and again pitched expansion as a way to save struggling, rural hospitals across the nation. More recently, activists are pitching Medicaid expansion as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak. As more hospitals find themselves in financial trouble, expanding Medicaid is promised to be the cure-all: not only will it save hospitals from closing, but it’ll create jobs too (or so advocates say). This exact conversation has played out recently in states like Kansas, where state legislators backed away from a so-called “compromise” expansion proposal. 

But reality has a tendency to get in the way of big promises. The latest data actually show that expanding Medicaid has not materially improved the hospital’s financial health and that these promises of hospital jobs have gone unfulfilled. In many instances, expansion states have actually lost thousands of hospital jobs. And non-expansion states have seen hospital jobs grow at a faster rate compared to expansion states.