From Andrew Goodman-Bacon:
This paper provides new evidence that Medicaid’s introduction reduced mortality rates among nonwhite infants and children in the 1960s and 1970s. Medicaid required states to cover all cash welfare recipients, which induced substantial cross-state variation in the share of children immediately eligible for the program. Before Medicaid, higher- and lower eligibility states had similar public insurance use and child mortality rates. At implementation, Medicaid eligibility for nonwhite children ranged across states from 5 to 33 percent and, for white children, from 0.5 to 10 percent. After Medicaid implementation, public insurance utilization increased and mortality fell more rapidly among nonwhite children and infants in high-Medicaid-eligibility states. My estimates suggest that the introduction of Medicaid can account for eight percent of the decline in nonwhite child mortality and fifteen percent of the reduction in the racial gap in child mortality between 1965 and 1980.