Right Now

A recent study from physicians at the University of Virginia analyzed the mortality rates of patients after major surgery. The study was designed to assess outcomes, based on whether patients were insured, uninsured, or had Medicare or Medicaid coverage.

Even “after controlling for age, gender, income, geographic region, operation, and 30 comorbid conditions,” the study’s authors found Medicaid patients had “the longest length of stay and highest total costs.” The authors speculate that explanations for these findings “include delays in access to care or disparate differences in health maintenance” that patients experience in the Medicaid program.

One health policy analyst who analyzed this study did the math from the study’s numbers to draw some troubling conclusions: “Surgical patients on Medicaid are 13% more likely to die than those with no insurance at all, and 97% more likely to die than those with private insurance.” And not only are Medicaid patients almost twice as likely to die as those with private insurance, but “their hospital stays were 42% longer, and cost 26% more.”

Unfortunately, these conclusions mirror data Dr. Barrasso and I highlighted in Bad Medicine. The Medicaid program denies patients access to 40 percent of physicians, yields poorer health outcomes, and higher rates of infant mortality.

Sadly, the new health law enrolls 16 to 18 million Americans into Medicaid. Surely this is not the reform the American people want.

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