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CT expanded Medicaid and had fewer eviction judgments, JAMA study indicates

Jahaira Vega, a housing voucher recipient, wipes tears after sharing at the Legislative Office Building her story of eviction and being unable to find housing despite having a housing voucher, December 13, 2022.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Jahaira Vega wipes away tears at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford after sharing her story of eviction and being unable to find housing despite having a housing voucher, Dec. 13, 2022.

States that expanded Medicaid coverage had fewer eviction judgments, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The premise is that health inequity is linked with social instability, and in this study’s case, it was housing. Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin pored over data from 2002 to 2018 in 40 states.

“We found that the eviction judgment rates fell, on average, by about 2 1/2 fewer evictions per 1,000 renter-occupied households,” said Sebastian Linde, assistant professor of general internal medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “That represents, for the average kind of county in the U.S., a drop by about 66 eviction judgments. If you compare that just to get a feeling for how big of a number that is to the pre-2014 kind of average evictions in the U.S., this represents about an 11% drop in that rate.”

The association between more Medicaid and fewer evictions varied across both states and counties, with 29% of the variation being explained by across-state differences. And 9% by county-level differences – the implication is that counties with a larger share of populations 65 years and older tend to not have as much of an effect, given that this demographic is covered under Medicare, rather than Medicaid.

“We also found that areas that previously had higher uninsurance rates tend to fare better in terms of the actual efficacy of this policy,” Linde said.

The study does not discuss data at the state level. But Linde said because Connecticut expanded Medicaid insurance as early as 2014, the average results for the U.S. can be extrapolated to Connecticut.

Eviction rates in Connecticut dropped further after a moratorium in 2020, but they began to climb after the state and federal moratoriums expired in June and August of 2021.

“For example in Hartford, landlords in 2021 filed 207 eviction cases,” compared to 175 in 2019, said Evonne Klein, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. “Some of the folks may become homeless.”

Other policy measures like minimum wage and subsidized housing also lead to a reduction in eviction rates, said Linde’s co-author Dr. Leonard Egede.

“The data you’re seeing is not random,” said Egede. “There are policies, decisions that are made at every level that impact health at the county level. And so just like Medicaid expansion is a policy decision that affects people at the individual level, similarly, the reason why people are evicted is tied to poverty – income, employment, all of those factors drive eviction.”

According to the CT Data Collaborative, landlords in Connecticut filed a total of 75,429 eviction cases from January 2017 to December 2021. In January 2023, Connecticut expanded its Medicaid program to children 12 and younger, regardless of their immigration status.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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