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April 8, 2024

Notable new research on state cuts to Medicaid and crime

Bolts magazine has this interesting new article discussing some interesting new research headlined "“We Need to See the Bigger Picture”: How Cuts to Medicaid Hurt Public Safety." Here are some excerpts from the article, which is worth reading in full:

When a state made cuts to Medicaid, depriving people of access to health insurance, the crime rate increased: That’s the finding of a new academic study, supported by the National Institutes of Health and released as a working paper in March by four scholars who study public health.

The study comes at a time when many states are ramping up punishment in response to crime, while leaving public services largely underfunded.  One of the study’s authors, Catherine Maclean, a professor of public policy at George Mason University, tells Bolts that policymakers should keep in mind the critical value of a strong social safety net for stabilizing communities....

A number of states are contemplating further Medicaid cuts, including Kentucky, Utah, and New York.  Elsewhere, in Mississippi and South Dakota, voters have tried to force elected leaders to expand Medicaid via direct democracy, but with mixed success.  And on the national stage, Donald Trump is running for president again, calling for dramatic slashing of public funds for health coverage.

Bolts spoke with Maclean about what the Tennessee study can tell us about the link between health insurance and public safety today; about what has and hasn’t changed since 2005; and about current proposed cuts to government-provided health insurance.  “You might save some dollars in terms of Medicaid, but that may lead to some other problems with other objectives, like promoting public safety,” she warned.

Speaking of reading in full, the entire NBER woking paper article, titled "Losing Medicaid and Crime," can be found at this link. Here is its abstract:

We study the impact of losing health insurance on criminal activity by leveraging one of the most substantial Medicaid disenrollments in U.S. history, which occurred in Tennessee in 2005 and lead to 190,000 non–elderly and non–disabled adults without dependents unexpectedly losing coverage.  Using police agency–level data and a difference–in–differences approach, we find that this mass insurance loss increased total crime rates with particularly strong effects for nonviolent crime. We test for several potential mechanisms and find that our results may be explained by economic stability and access to healthcare.

April 8, 2024 at 09:13 PM | Permalink


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