Expanding Medicaid fills one of the gaps in health care coverage that the Affordable Care Act is designed to eliminate. The various pieces of health reform – tax credits, the health insurance exchange, the individual mandate, and Medicaid expansion – are designed to work together to create a health care system that greatly reduces the number of uninsured while also lowering the cost of health insurance. The sum of those programs is greater than the individual pieces. The reforms work best, by far, if all aspects are implemented. And Medicaid expansion is a key part of the overall reform.
This report shows that a majority of the people who would benefit from Medicaid expansion are people who work but don’t earn enough money to buy private sector insurance. Providing access to health care to 122,000 working Coloradans by expanding Medicaid will have widespread benefits throughout Colorado’s economy. Not only will it provide those low-wage workers the peace of mind and physical well-being that most higher-income Coloradans already enjoy. But expanding Medicaid will also bolster some of the primary economic engines in Colorado because many of the people who benefit directly are employed in restaurants, ski resorts and key industries throughout the state. Failing to expand Medicaid to capture this critical population would undermine health care reform in Colorado.