In 2010, the newly passed Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — mandated that states expand Medicaid eligibility to cover millions of uninsured Americans. But when the Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion optional for states, close to half opted out. Today, close to a quarter of states still have not increased access to Medicaid, and Medicaid expansion is now at the center of a national debate about President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislation.

Just published research from the Keck School of Medicine of USC sheds new light on that debate. According to a study in The Lancet Public Health, making Medicaid available to more people reduces fatalities. The study shows that expanding Medicaid may result in an overall drop of approximately 3.8 percent in adult deaths each year.

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