Interest group conflict over medicaid expansion: The surprising impact of public advocates

Timothy Callaghan, Larry Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives.Weexamined the potential economic, policy, and political influences on the decisions of the 50 US states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Methods. We related a measure of relative state progress toward Medicaid expansion updated to 2015 to each state's economic circumstances, established policy frameworks in states, partisan control of state government, and lobbyists for businesses, medical professionals, unions, and public interest organizations. Results. The 9201 lobbyists working on health care reform in state capitols exerted a strong and significant impact on Medicaid expansion. Controlling for confounding factors (including partisanship and existing policy frameworks), we found that business and professional lobbyists exerted a negative effect on state Medicaid expansion and, unexpectedly, that public interest advocates exerted a positive effect. Conclusions. There are 3.1 million adults who lack coverage because they live in the 20 states that refused to expand Medicaid. Although political party and lobbyists for private interests present significant barriers in these states, legislative lobbying on behalf of the uninsured appears likely to be effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-313
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016


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