Nearly 22,000 people on Medicaid waiting lists in expansion states have died since Obamacare began providing health insurance to qualifying adults, according to a study released in early March by the Foundation for Government Accountability.
The FGA documented deaths in 13 states: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, as many other states did not track waiting list deaths or provided partial responses.
Maryland had the most deaths at 8,495, and individuals there had to wait an average of 7.5 years to be approved for services. In Louisiana, where the wait is up to 6.5 years, 5,534 died while waiting to be approved for Medicaid.
The Affordable Care Act is in its fifth full year of expansion, and coverage under Medicaid expansion became effective Jan. 1, 2014 in the 33 states that adopted it. The average wait time in New Mexico has reached 10.2 years.
Current Medicaid waiting lists sit around 650,000 individuals, according to the report, and includes states such as Ohio, where 62,118 are waiting for approval.
"In a nutshell, Medicaid has lost its focus," study author and FGA research director Nicholas Horton said. "When you think about the Medicaid program, you think about the blind, the disabled — individuals who truly need Medicaid in order to survive in many cases – you're just talking about a program that I think has gotten really out of whack, and lost its priorities."
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