A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine* on the Oregon Medicaid program has elicited reactions fitting for that twilight zone at the intersection of academic research and politics. Kaiser Health News characterized the paper as serving a “Rorschach test for how partisans and health policy wonks view the health care law”**
Oregon did a limited expansion of Medicaid in 2008 by offering coverage to individuals who met income and other eligibility requirements and were winners of a lottery. That meant that about 30,000 adults were newly enrolled in the Medicaid program out of 90,000 eligible. The state thus created a classic experiment with a control group and a treatment group.
The study found significant differences in the two group’s access and utilization of health care, a substantial improvement in mental health outcomes for the Medicaid covered population, a significant reduction in financial strain on covered families and significant increase in