Colorado economists say it would cost their taxpayers nothing to expand the state's Medicaid program through President Obama's health law — and it would likely bring in $128 million in local tax revenue.
"Essentially, if nothing else were to happen in the economy, the expansion would pay for itself," said Phyllis Resnick, an independent consultant who was part of the team, and who was the former lead economist for the Center for Colorado's Economic Future. "That kind of surprised us. We did not expect it to be net-neutral."
The state would spend about $134 million less by 2025 if they expanded Medicaid than if they didn't, said report author Charles Brown, a policy and economic analyst and director of the Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University. They estimated that the state's participation could add at least 22,388 jobs, increase economic activity by $4.4 billion and raise the average annual household's earnings by $608 by 2026.
The researchers also foresee 14,000 new jobs in the first 18 months of expansion. "That really expands overall hiring," Brown said.