The Dean of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, Katherine Baicker, spoke Tuesday about her support for the Medicaid system and how it truly helps those who receive its benefits.

The lecture was sponsored by the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Urban Institute in Washington D.C. in memory of former Wisconsin state senator Paul Offner. Offner worked on developing health and welfare, including programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

Medicaid is often “misconstrued and misinterpreted” in the media, Baicker said. Baicker’s 2008 study, which studied an Oregon lottery program giving random individuals Medicaid benefits, found those who received the benefits of Medicaid had better mental health and financial stability than those who weren’t insured at all.

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Baicker’s goal in the study was to prove the positive effects Medicaid has on its recipients through a randomized and controlled evaluation of the effects of Medicaid.

“When you asked people about their health, they reported being in much better health when they’re insured,” Baicker said.

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During her research, through in-person surveys and blood samples, Baicker found those who received the benefits of Medicaid had better mental health and financial stability than those who weren’t insured at all.

Baicker and her colleagues studied the mental health of individuals who were receiving the Medicaid insurance and found that the individuals showed dramatic improvements in mental health.

“People were thirty percent less likely to screen positive for depression, so that is a huge improvement,” Baicker said. “The people on Medicaid are substantially better off than people who are uninsured.”