How Employers Can Advocate for Medicaid Expansion

Written by:
David Moser
August 29, 2022

When you discover a good thing, you want to share it. That impulse is natural, but the best way to do it might not be.

You know Medicaid expansion saves lives and supports small businesses. Your team, friends, and fellow entrepreneurs might, too. But in a dozen states, too many policymakers still aren’t convinced.

Also read: 5 States That Could Expand Medicaid in 2022 — and 1 That Could Roll it Back

Whether you live in a non-expansion state and want to change that, or simply want others to benefit from a program your team has, consider these five steps to show your support:

  1. Help eligible workers claim their benefits

If your workers are eligible, the single best way you can support expansion is to help them enroll in Medicaid.

Doing so can make a difference on two fronts: First, enrolled workers will tell their own networks to check whether they might qualify for free, high-quality coverage. Second, skeptical leaders may look at enrollment figures from other states to decide their own position: the more popular a program, the less political risk they face in supporting it.

  1. Share your story with other employers

Although our experience has been that Medicaid Expansion is popular among business leaders, many don’t fully grasp how it can benefit their workers and their company. Others are afraid to speak up in our polarized political climate.

Offer to tell your story to your entrepreneurship group or chamber of commerce. Be sure to include numbers like how many employees gained coverage and how much your business saved on its group plan premiums.

  1. Focus on local leaders

Medicaid expansion is a state-level decision. But you’re more likely to find a receptive audience with local leaders — and they’re more likely than you are to be heard by those state officials.

In Utah, the endorsement of the Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County mayors helped to seal a partial expansion. And if current federal legislation becomes law, counties and cities in non-expansion states may gain the right to expand Medicaid locally.

  1. Submit an op-ed

Expressing your support of expansion verbally isn’t a bad idea. But the most effective way to do it, believe it or not, might be in writing to your local newspaper.

In two randomized trials, Yale researchers found that op-ed pieces had large, long-lasting effects on the views of policy experts and the general public. Both Democrat and Republican participants adjusted their views in response to the op-eds they read.

  1. Join a coalition

The more voices calling for expansion, the more likely they are to be heard. On your company’s behalf, join a group like the Medicaid Coalition — representing over 400 for-profit and nonprofit organizations — or Southerners for Medicaid Expansion. 

For maximum impact, pair this with the prior technique. Dozens of Missouri-based businesses penned an open letter in support of expansion just months before the state’s high court ruled in July 2021 that the voter-approved expansion must proceed.

Leaders in holdout states need to hear from businesses like yours. Speak up and sign up eligible employees until they do.