Monday, September 14, 2009

States who already having trouble paying for Medicaid

Proposed plans in the U.S. Congress to expand Medicaid have some state governors worried. They fear the proposals could force the states to help pay for the expansion.

State government budgets are already being stretched due to more and more people applying for Medicaid benefits, especially during the recession. Some states are already over budget with their Medicaid programs, and fear an expansion will bust their budgets.

From this story that we found at the Press of Atlantic City, we see some examples of states that having trouble paying for all the people who need insurance.

In New Mexico, 18.4 percent live below the poverty level, well above the national average of 13.3 percent. Medicaid enrollment there has increased nearly 10 percent since mid-2008, and Human Services Secretary Pam Hyde said the program could overspend its budget by $35 million to $40 million this fiscal year.

_ In Michigan, where unemployment hit 15 percent in July, Republicans who control the state Senate propose saving money by trimming 8 percent from the Medicaid reimbursement rates for physicians, hospitals and other health care providers in the state fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

_ In Georgia, Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue ordered 3 percent funding cuts for Medicaid and public schools and 5 percent cuts for most other state programs because of weak state tax collections in late July, just three weeks into the new fiscal year.

"If we're asked to pick up on state increased costs in health care, it's going to take away from infrastructure, it's going take away from environment, transportation, education, public safety _ all the other things that we as states do," said Perdue, who leads a state where 14.5 percent of residents live below the poverty level, according to the U.S. Census.

In Mississippi, where 21.1 percent of residents live in poverty and 20 percent are enrolled in Medicaid, paying for health care has long been a struggle. Barbour said a mandate to cover more people could lead to tax increases.

Barbour won the Mississippi governorship in 2003 after criticizing a 33 percent growth in Medicaid enrollment in four years under his Democratic predecessor. Enrollment has grown 5 percent since Barbour took office in January 2004. Mississippi saw an unexpected hiccup in Medicaid numbers in March, when enrollment jumped by 21,620. It was the largest single-month increase the program had seen since April 2001.

1 comment:

Jessica Bolin said...

It's really hard to say what the right decision is and it's scary to think that our government may make the wrong one. I personally am not 100% certain. There are very valid arguments on both sides. Being self-employed and having to struggle to pay for private personal insurance and cover the deductibles, premiums, and copays has been hard. Having been in a bad car accident, I know first hand. It scares me to think of the possible outcomes if this all turns out bad and adds to the current state of our struggling economy.