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Study: States That Don’t Expand Medicaid Are Hurting Themselves

Ozarks Community Hospital has clinics in both Missouri and Arkansas.

A new survey by Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute shows stark differences between states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, and those—like Kansas and Missouri—that haven’t.

Researchers interviewed leaders of major hospital systems and safety net clinics in seven states--four that expanded Medicaid and three that didn’t.

Paul Taylor heads Ozarks Community Hospital. The organization has hospitals and clinics in Missouri, which didn’t expand Medicaid, and in Arkansas, which did. With more people eligible for Medicaid, far fewer patients are showing up at the emergency room in Arkansas without a way to pay their bills. In Missouri, the number has actually gone up.

“It’s gloom and doom with my fellow small-and-rural hospital administrators in Missouri," Taylor says. "They’re all just hanging on. There’s a large majority of them that simply don’t know if they’re still going to be open in a year from now.”

Taylor says the border between Missouri and Arkansas is an imaginary line, but the differences in health care between the two states are all too real.