MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Andrew Phillip Loehrer MD MPH
Fellow in Surgical Oncology Department
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: A growing number of studies have examined the effects of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. But none to date have looked at effects on surgical conditions, which are both expensive and potentially life-threatening. We examined data for nearly 300,000 patients who presented to hospitals with common and serious surgical conditions such as appendicitis and aortic aneurysms.
We found that expansion of Medicaid coverage was linked to increased insurance coverage for these patients, but even more importantly, Medicaid expansion led patients to come to the hospital earlier before complications set in, and they also received better surgical care once they got there.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: This is the first study showing that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion led to better access to surgery and higher quality surgical care. As both Congress and states consider changes to Medicaid and the ACA, these findings provide evidence that expanded Medicaid coverage leads to improved care for serious and potentially life-threatening surgical conditions.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: This study provided important insights into how the ACA Medicaid expansion influenced the timing and quality of care for common and serious surgical conditions. Additional changes to Medicaid coverage, such as increase co-payments or work-requirements, may also influence the accessibility of optimal care. Finally, further study is needed to better understand how insurance expansion influences care for other medical conditions.
Association of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion With Changes in the Care of Surgical Conditions Andrew P. Loehrer, David C. Chang, John W. Scott, Matthew M. Hutter, Virendra I. Patel, Jeffrey E. Lee, and Benjamin D. Sommers, JAMA Surgery, online January 24, 2018, doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2017.5568
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