Thanks to the US Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, states do not have to participate in one of its signature initiatives: The expansion of the Medicaid program to cover more individuals. And once the Supreme Court opened this door, there was a clear pattern to which states ran out of it: From Mississippi to Oklahoma, the states that didn’t get on board  tended to be more politically conservative. And so they in effect denied many of their residents, especially the working poor , access to affordable health coverage.
According to a new study  in the budding field of what is sometimes called “political epidemiology,” that pattern shouldn’t be surprising. The paper—recently published in the journal Social Science and Medicine by political scientist Mitchel Herian of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his colleagues—looks at how each US state fares when it comes to the health of its residents. And they find that “the presence of a more liberal government is related to a higher rate of reported health, a lower rate of reported smoking, lower BMI, and fewer numbers of days with poor health.”