Medicaid straining budgets in Rhode Island and other statesJune 13th, 2012 at 5:00 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
I’ve written before about how soaring medical costs and expiring federal stimulus aid are combining to make Medicaid a major drain on Rhode Island’s state budget. A new study shows the state is far from alone, Michael Fletcher reports for The Washington Post:
States are finally seeing a bit of revenue growth in a turnaround from the economic downturn that devastated budgets in fiscal 2009 and 2010, according to a survey by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO).
The problem is that many states are contending with costs that are rising even faster, as help from the federal government dwindles. Total spending has returned to levels seen before the recession.
The biggest culprit has been Medicaid. State spending on the joint federal-state health-care program for the poor surged by 20 percent this year, following a rise of 23 percent in fiscal 2011. …
“With the growth of Medicaid expenditures, spending priorities will again face competition for state budget dollars this fiscal year,” said Dan Crippen, the NGA’s executive director. “States have undertaken numerous actions to contain Medicaid costs, including reducing provider payments, cutting prescription drug benefits, limiting benefits, reforming delivery systems, expanding managed care and enhancing program integrity efforts. These efforts alone, however, cannot stop the growth of Medicaid.”
Rhode Island spent $8,566 per Medicaid beneficiary in 2008-09, fourth-most in the country. Contrary to popular belief, more than half the program’s spending goes toward services for elderly people and disabled adults, not children and families, even though most enrollees are in the latter category.
Coincidentally, the National Association of State Budget Officers will hold its annual meeting here in Providence on July 29. (Ain’t no party like a budget officer party, right?) Thomas Mullaney, Rhode Island’s state budget officer, is on the group’s executive committee as its Eastern regional director.
• Related: Budget on autopilot gives Rhode Island permanent deficits (June 13)