A new study found there is a higher rate of employment among people with disabilities in states where Medicaid has been expanded.

Researchers found that between 2013 and 2017 the percentage of people with disabilities that reported not working because of their disability decreased from 32 percent to 27 percent.

PEOPLE WITH disabilities are more likely to be employed in states where Medicaid coverage has been expanded as part of the Affordable Care Act.

New research published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health found the number of people who report not working due to their disability has decreased significantly in states where Medicaid has expanded. In states where the program has not expanded, neither trend has been observed.

“In effect, Medicaid expansion is acting as an employment incentive for people with disabilities,” the researchers wrote, according to a press release.

Researchers from the University of Kansas examined data from the Health Reform Monitoring Survey from 2013 to 2017. They found that in 2013, 41.3 percent of people with disabilities in states with expanded Medicaid were employed or self-employed. In 2017, the percentage increased to 47 percent. During the same time period, the percentage of people with disabilities that reported not working because of their disability decreased from 32 percent to 27 percent. These trends were not observed in states that did not expand Medicaid, the study found.

Jean Hall, co-author and professor of applied behavioral science and director of the university’s Institute for Health and Disability Policy Studies, said in the press release that she would also expect to see this trend for people without disabilities over time.

“Our argument is that, over time, those who are better able to manage their health would have a better ability to be employed,” Hall said.

The researchers also noted that working is beneficial for individuals. Having health insurance and being able to have a job allows people to be more independent, lowers unemployment, leads to more people paying taxes and boosts state economies. It also decreases the amount of people dependent on government assistance programs.

When the data was analyzed for the study, 26 states and the District of Columbia had expanded Medicaid. Currently 33 states and D.C. have expanded it. The researchers say the findings, which come during heated debate over work requirements for Medicaid eligibility, stress the “importance of coverage and independence.”

“First of all, having health insurance is very important in the ability to work,” Hall said in the release. “And I think we need to move away from a system where health coverage is predicated on living in poverty and not working. That’s counterproductive.”

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