How Failure to Expand Medicaid has Impacted Virginia Employment

Health care is an economic driver in Virginia; the field employs more than 450,000 people and generates $36 billion in positive economic activity. Its economic importance is especially pronounced in rural communities – health care is among the top five largest employers in 82 percent of rural Virginia counties. The impact is even more dramatic in certain localities – in Alleghany County, for example, health care accounts for 47 percent of all jobs in that jurisdiction. Beyond direct employment, each Virginia hospital job supports two jobs in the local economy. While much discussion has focused on Medicaid expansion costs, far less attention has been paid to how expansion would boost job creation.

Comparing job growth in states which expanded Medicaid to those that did not shows a distinct advantage in expansion states. Health care and social services jobs grew at twice the rate in expansion states. An evaluation of Virginia’s job growth shows it has tracked the less prosperous trend observed in other non-expansion states. In other words, Virginia job growth has been hindered by its failure to expand Medicaid. Overall, Medicaid expansion states have added health care and social service jobs 75.6 percent faster than Virginia has. (10/9/2015)

Figure 1: Change in percent for health care and social assistance jobs in Medicaid expanded states, non-Medicaid expanded states, and Virginia.