According to a new Gallup poll, Oregon ranks among the top 10 states for a drop in the number of uninsured, largely due to expansion of Medicaid and the state’s streamlined procedure for enrolling new insureds.

New Report Focuses on Medicaid Emergency Room Use

Last year, Medicaid expansion in Oregon showed it had increased emergency room use by low-income adults. This year’s Medicaid and CHIP Payment Access Commission report focused on how and why low-income Medicaid beneficiaries seek care in emergency departments by asking:

  • Are Medicaid patients going to the Emergency Room more than ever before?
  • Are Medicaid patients intentionally going to Emergency Rooms for non-urgent care needs?
  • Are Medicaid patients having trouble find primary-care doctors?

This year’s report found that:

  • Most Emergency Department use among Medicaid enrollees is necessary.
  • Most Medicaid patients have a primary-care doctor or a usual place for care, so aren’t using the Emergency Department as an alternative provider.
  • There is no evidence to suggest expanding Medicaid will result in increased Emergency Department use. Some states that have expanded the program saw no increase in Emergency Department use, while in others the increase was short-lived.

The report stated that the majority of Emergency Department visits by Medicaid patients are for urgent symptoms and serious medical problems that require prompt medical attention, with non-urgent visits accounting for just 10% of all Medicaid-covered Emergency Department visits for non-elderly patients.

Medicaid Expansion Favorable to Hospitals

Guaranteed government reimbursement for more patients causes hospitals to favor Medicaid expansion. Like physicians’ offices, hospitals have to contend with low and delayed Medicaid reimbursement rates and increased paperwork. However, unlike a doctor’s office, a hospital can’t turn away a patient. If you are bleeding or you have a heart attack, the hospital has to see you. Before Medicaid expansion, low-income adults with no insurance who didn’t qualify for Medicaid could not pay at all.