Originally published by The Boston Globe.
Harvard researchers have found that the Affordable Care Act was linked to better access to surgery and higher quality care, the university said.
“What was most striking was that we saw significant improvements in the treatment of surgical conditions fairly quickly,” less than two years after the expansion of Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, lead author Andrew Loehrer, who conducted the study as a research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement.
The Harvard study was the first to look at how surgical care was affected by the health care law enacted during former president Barack Obama’s administration. President Trump has vowed to dismantle the law, but it survived a congressional vote last year.
The study, published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery, looked at five years of data from nearly 300,000 patients in 42 states who were admitted to the hospital for five common surgical conditions, such as appendicitis, diverticulitis, or gallbladder inflammation.
It looked at periods before the expansion and after, comparing what happened in the 27 states that expanded their Medicaid programs with what happened in the 15 that didn’t, the university said.
The researchers found that Medicaid expansion was associated with a 7.5-percentage-point decrease in the probability of patients being uninsured; an 8.6-percentage-point increase in the probability of patients having Medicaid; a 1.8-percentage-point increase in the probability of patients seeking care earlier, before their surgical conditions became complicated; and a 2.6-percentage-point increase in patients’ probability of receiving optimal care, the university said.