Christopher K. Rogers, MPH, doctoral student in the PhD in Health Sciences – Health Professions Leadership program
The future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still a hotly debated subject throughout the United States. One of the ACA's provisions is the expansion of health coverage to low-income families through the Medicaid program. A repeal or replacement of the ACA could mean that many low-income individuals and families would lose health coverage.
According to researchers at Seton Hall University, Medicaid expansion is an enabling factor that has the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) among low-income individuals.
"States can close the gap in health disparities and social determinants of health – for example, low education rates, low income, unemployment, lack of transportation to medical services – by expanding Medicaid and offering a comprehensive set of preventive, population health and socioeconomic services targeting the key determinants of CVD and other outcomes," says Christopher K. Rogers, MPH, a doctoral student in the Department of Interprofessional Health Sciences and Health Administration in the University's School of Health and Medical Sciences and lead author of an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Population Health Management.
The article, titled "An Early Look at the Association between State Medicaid Expansion and Disparities in Cardiovascular Diseases: A Comprehensive Population Health Management Approach," is co-authored by Rogers' academic advisor, Professor Ning Jackie Zhang, MD, PhD, MPH.
Rogers is a student in the PhD in Health Sciences program, specializing in the Health Professions Leadership track. Currently a senior consultant with a health policy firm in the Washington, DC, area, he has been committed throughout his professional career to reducing social disparities that lead to poor health outcomes among underserved populations.
Other findings in the Rogers/Zhang study include:
- There is a need to prevent CVD in low-income men. States that expand Medicaid can help reduce CVD rates in men by offering gender-specific services, such as collaborating with men's health clinics to offer heart disease prevention education.
- States deciding to expand Medicaid could benefit from improved CVD outcomes if they offered programs that support job training, job readiness and job placement in conjunction with Medicaid.
- There is an increasing need for Medicaid policies that support evidenced-based diabetes prevention and management interventions, and access to smoking cessation programs that lower the risk of CVD.
"The current health policy discourse and uncertain politics about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act has rendered the future of Medicaid expansion questionable," Rogers says. "Politicians, analysts and researchers have been advocating proposals that replace Medicaid with a block grant program, in which the expansion to Medicaid includes contributions to a health savings account and basic health coverage.
"Whatever the future direction of Medicaid turns out to be," Rogers continues, "any effort to redesign and expand Medicaid to the nation's poorest individuals must include access to a broad range of preventive and social care services."
Rogers himself grew up in a low-income urban community. "The area was plagued with a high prevalence of chronic diseases, especially heart disease," he recalls, and refers to Medicaid as "an important safety-net program" that can help to prevent chronic disease among low-income individuals. Rogers chose to pursue his doctorate at Seton Hall, which offers the state's only PhD in Health Sciences program, so that he could contribute to this ever-changing discourse.
"It was vital that I add to the body of literature examining the impact Medicaid expansion has had on heart disease prevention," Rogers says. "Our research demonstrated that low-income individuals living in Medicaid expansion states had lower odds of poor heart health compared to low-income individuals living in non-Medicaid expansion states."
Categories: Health and Medicine