News Release

Effect of Medicaid policies on health in Arizona studied by UAHS and ASU researchers

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Arizona Health Sciences

Researchers with the Center for Population Science and Discovery at the University of Arizona Health Sciences are studying the impact of two Medicaid enrollment freezes and subsequent Medicaid expansions on health-care utilization and expenditures among adults and children in Arizona. The study will help inform policymakers and other stakeholders about Medicaid funding and administration.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with a $150,000 grant through November 2018, the study is led by co-principal investigators Patrick Wightman, PhD, MPP, and Matthew Butler, PhD, health policy researchers with the UAHS Center for Population Science and Discovery, where Dr. Wightman is director of health analytics and Dr. Butler is director of health economics. Both are assistant professors with the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. They are collaborating with William Johnson, PhD, founder of the Center for Health Information and Research and professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, College of Health Solutions, at Arizona State University.

The researchers are examining the impact of Medicaid enrollment freezes and expansion in Arizona during the "Great Recession," a period of global economic decline from 2007 to 2012. Arizona addressed significant budget shortfalls by freezing enrollment in its Medicaid program twice: in December 2009, to KidsCare, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and in July 2011, to the "Proposition 204" program, which serves low-income, childless adults. The Affordable Care Act made possible the lifting of the Proposition 204 enrollment freeze and incremental expansions to KidsCare enrollment. The UAHS study is examining the impact of the enrollment freezes on emergency department visits and inpatient stays for ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions on the KidsCare and Proposition 204 populations, and is evaluating the impact of regained coverage on health-care utilization and costs among those affected.

The study, "The Impact of Medicaid/SCHIP Disenrollment on Adult and Children's Healthcare Utilization and Expenditures in Arizona: A Natural Experiment," is one of seven projects across the nation funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Research in Transforming Health and Health Care Systems program. Managed by AcademyHealth, the program funds studies that evaluate or predict the potential effects of policies or policy changes intended to transform health and health-care systems.

The seven projects address issues related to stabilizing the individual health insurance market, understanding the effects of Medicaid expansion on health-care costs and utilization and predicting the effects of potential Medicaid policy changes. The projects will inform the development of publications and presentations for diverse audiences, including federal and state policymakers. AcademyHealth will help disseminate project findings to relevant groups across the nation.


About the UAHS Center for Population Science and Discovery

The Center for Population Science and Discovery at the University of Arizona Health Sciences is working to improve the health of populations and promote health equity in Arizona and beyond through research and its application to policies, health-care delivery and practice in medicine and population health. Focusing on a broad range of health problems important to government, business, providers and the public, the Center leverages UA resources as it builds partnerships among population health and health-care providers and hospitals, government and non-government agencies, policy makers, universities, private industry and local communities to promote better health. For more information:

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs approximately 4,000 people, has approximately 800 faculty members and garners more than $140 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn)

About the ASU Center for Health Information and Research

For nearly 20 years, the Arizona State University Center for Health Information and Research (CHiR) has been a community resource and partner for organizations and individuals seeking comprehensive health information, data analytics and reporting for public, private and research uses. CHiR securely collects and analyzes identifiable health and social determinants data from a variety of voluntary sources, both proprietary and publicly available. These data are linkable, creating one of the most complete and accurate longitudinal profiles of individuals and populations over time and across providers and insurers in Arizona. Local health-care providers and payers, researchers, public health agencies, health policy leaders and other public and private organizations can inform and empower their businesses from the information collected and analytics reported by CHiR. For more information:

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