Study: Expanding Medicaid in Michigan lead to better heart surgery outcomes

Jun 12, 2017

According to a recently published medical study, expanding Medicaid coverage is associated with better outcomes for heart surgery patients in the state of Michigan. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. 

“The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of Medicaid expansion, on improving both access to health care and on (surgery) outcomes." Dr. Eric Charles of the University of Virginia said. Charles is a surgery resident at the University of Virginia, as well as one of the study's lead researchers.

The study found that in the state of Michigan, which expanded Medicaid in 2014, there was a significant increase in the number of cardiac surgery patients who had Medicaid and that they had better pre-operative risk scores.

“And so you can think about that as if the patients are healthier going into the operation,” Charles said.

In addition,  the study found that Medicaid patients had better post-operative outcomes.

“So what that means is that there was a reduction in both the number and likelihood of complications after surgery,” Charles said.  

The same study was conducted in the state of Virginia that voted against expanding Medicaid in 2014.

“And somewhat as expected there were no changes for Medicaid patients in the state of Virginia before or after that date,” Charles said.  

Meaning, expanding Medicaid in Michigan has not only resulted in an increase of successful heart surgeries, in Virginia where Medicaid did not expand, the numbers remained the same.

“And so that is the real hope here, is that if you have taken someone and given them insurance, they can go and see a primary doctor, and get control of their diabetes, get control of their high blood pressure, the better they will do after their operation,” Charles said.  

Outcomes in both states were reviewed over the same three-year period - the 18 months before Michigan expanded Medicaid and the first 18 months after.