There’s a new study out in the Journal of Public Economics that’s getting a lot of traction.
It’s behind a paywall, but the abstract is here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272717301445?showall%3Dtrue%26via%3Dihub
The author's premise is that because Medicaid expansion allows for more people to enter substance abuse programs, it will reduce crime. So, if you want to reduce crime, expand Medicaid. Let it be said that the author is also a social justice warrior who is on a crusade to expand public access to health care. Hefie Wen's bio is on UKY's website.
I work in the field of healthcare/human services/public health. Substance abuse and crime are linked. No doubt. But I’ve seen too much to believe that Medicaid, one of the most dysfunctional government programs, should be expanded on the premise that it will reduce crime.
The article uses correlative statistics to tie counties with an increase in access to Medicaid with a decrease in selected crime rates. I've got a host of issues with the study itself, but won't bore you. I think there are better solutions that what the author proposes.
What I would prefer to see is our justice system remand offenders with substance abuse issues to treatment programs (regardless of the funding source) rather than jail. There are some jurisdictions that use this method, but not nearly enough. Combined with a strong community reintegration program, you can drastically reduce criminal recidivism. But in the states the most successful programs are not government programs. They are non-profits (some use government funding, sure) that put the focus on setting the person up for success. Not for expanding the interests of the ‘administrative state.’
So, let’s treat those people who aren’t strong enough to beat the demon alone. But for the sake of the country, don’t leave it to Medicaid.