We have to thank the New England Journal of Medicine (July 25 issue) for finally settling the argument about whether the availability of Medicaid really saves lives.

Identifying three states that expanded eligibility for Medicaid early in the last decade (Maine, New York, Arizona) with four neighboring states that did not expand (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Mexico), the authors compared adult mortality rates during the 10 years spanning the expansion.

The states that had expanded their eligibility rolls reduced mortality rates by 6 percent, compared to those that did not. As would be expected, the impact was most significant among those who are older and poorer.

In the discussion, the authors translate their scientific statistics into the chilling observation that the data point to one life saved per year for every 176 people covered by Medicaid.

Maine should be proud to have been in the group that provided that coverage the past 10 years.

The recent legislation cutting the Medicaid rolls reportedly includes 19,000 childless adults, one of the higher risk groups identified in the study.

To rephrase the authors’ editorial observation about lives saved by the availability of Medicaid, the number of Mainers whom we can expect to die each year as a result of this decision would be 108.

Would a member of the Legislature be willing to propose an amendment to the original bill mandating that a picture of each of those who was formerly insured and subsequently died is to presented to the legislative body for memorialization?

Steve Entman


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