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Matthew A. Winkler

Obamacare Is Boosting Economic Health

The 12 states holding out against Medicaid expansion are laggards in job-market strength and income growth. Even the ones that signed up late are doing better.

Shot in the arm.

Shot in the arm.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Obamacare gave Americans a lot to argue about before it became law in 2010. One contentious question concerned its eventual economic effect, with supporters saying it would invigorate businesses by freeing them from burdensome health-care costs and opponents warning of a drag produced by tax increases and government bureaucracy.

A decade’s worth of data has now rendered a partial verdict: States that have fully embraced the Affordable Care Act are enjoying healthier labor markets and stronger income growth than those that haven’t.

The evidence comes from the experience of the 12 states that have refused to accept a key element of Obamacare: federal money covering the cost of expanding Medicaid to cover millions of people who otherwise couldn’t afford health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion optional in its 2012 decision upholding the other parts of the law.