Press Release: National Medicaid Expert Joan Alker to Discuss New Report on Medicaid Expansion October 2nd

28 September 2018 Published in Press Release Archive

For Immediate Release: September 28, 2018
Contact: Jessie Mandle


National Medicaid Expert Joan Alker to Discuss New Report on Medicaid Expansion—and Why Rural Utahns Have the Most at Stake

Alker to speak at 9am on October 2nd, at Voices for Utah Children office

This Tuesday, October 2nd, national Medicaid expert Joan Alker will share findings from a new report on the impact Medicaid expansion has had in small towns and rural areas. Joan Alker, who is a research professor and executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and co-author of the report, will discuss the impact that Medicaid expansion would have on Utah’s small towns and rural areas, compared to metro areas. The report is part of a collaborative research project between Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina.

The recent report shows that states that expanded Medicaid saw more than three times as large a decline in the uninsured rates for low-income adults living in rural areas and small towns than non-expansion states, for the period between 2008/09 and 2015/16.

In Utah, where voters will soon be able to vote on a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid, the uninsured rate for low-income adults in rural areas only declined by about 3 percentage points in Utah while their uninsured rate dropped more than six times faster in states that expanded Medicaid.

“What the report shows is that Utah will not be able to reduce the very high levels of uninsurance in rural areas and small towns without expanding Medicaid,” said Alker. “Improved coverage rates typically translate to a more stable health care system. Access to rural health providers is especially important to women of child-bearing age and those with chronic conditions such as asthma.”

Utah has one of the nation’s widest coverage gaps between rural and metro areas: the uninsured rate for low-income adults in rural areas is 31%, while in metro areas it is 20%. Medicaid expansion would reduce the uninsured rate for residents across the entire state, however, the most dramatic improvement likely would be felt in small towns and rural areas of Utah.

“We need to make sure that, no matter where they live, Utahns have access to the care they need to get and stay healthy,” said Jessie Mandle, Senior Health Policy Analyst with Voices for Utah Children. “This report shows that expanding Medicaid will make a difference, providing critical access to care for individuals and families across our state.”

Joan Alker will speak at a healthcare forum at the Voices for Utah Children office (747 South Temple, Suite 100) at 9am on October 2nd. The event is open to the public and media.

The full report is available at: