States that have expanded Medicaid are improving the quality and availability of treatment for low-income people suffering from mental health disorders and addiction, the Government Accountability Office reports.
An article in Governing magazine also notes that expansion states are doing it without budget repercussions because, so far, the federal government covers the cost.
Twenty-nine states have chosen to extend Medicaid health-care benefits to people earning 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Twenty-one states, including Kansas and Missouri, have not.
The agency concluded that expansion states were doing a better job providing psychological and addiction treatment than non-expansion states. The latter were more likely to focus care on adults with the most serious conditions and to assign the uninsured with less serious conditions to waiting lists.
For its analysis, the GAO reviewed Medicaid enrollment from July 2014 to June 2015 and interviewed the staffs of behavioral health agencies in 10 states. It estimated that about 17 percent of low-income, uninsured people experience behavioral health conditions that make it difficult to keep a job.