Expand Medicaid, Reduce Crime?

Beware the new study linking Medicaid Expansion and Crime Reduction

There’s a new study out in the Journal of Public Economics that’s getting a lot of traction.

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.

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@Bear8 I agree. Chronic drug use in the US is more self-medication for undiagnosed and untreated psychological disorders, mainly anxiety and depression. Proper treatment, one that does not involve pharmaceuticals, when applied has a long history of success.


This study is the same so-called scientific barnyard excrement that brought about the government cure for poverty, drug use, gang violence, and every other failed "vision" put forth. Individuals do not, in most cases, start using drugs because of health issues. Individuals who are on drugs are not seeking cure; they want more drugs. As a nation we do not do an adequate job of eliminating the source of the drugs and the reasons individuals start using. Drugs kill more people than murder. Move the "bar" and make drug trafficking a capital offense the same as murder. We (through our government) must be as serious about eliminating drugs as the "drug salesman" is about selling them! When someone is convicted of a lesser drug crime; lock them up and lose the key! There is more money to be made in illegal drugs than in holding a legal job; that must be changed.