The cost of expanding Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is rising faster than expected in many states, causing budget anxieties and political misgivings.
Far more people than projected are signing up under the new, more relaxed eligibility requirements, and their health care costs are running higher than anticipated, in part because the new enrollees are apparently sicker than expected. Rising drug prices may also be a factor.
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Medicaid expansion is a poor use of taxpayer dollars. Blase rebuts Dr. Aaron Carroll, a long-time supporter of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion, writing in The New York Times to encourage further expansion. Carroll doesn’t not address new data showing government spending on Medicaid expansion enrollees is nearly 50% higher than the government projected, nor that Medicaid enrollees obtain only 20 to 40 cents of value for each dollar the government spends on their behalf.
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Medicaid expansion will not cure hospitals’ financial woes, according to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office. To put it bluntly, hospitals made a horrible deal by endorsing Obamacare in 2009. They agreed to annual reductions in their Medicare payments forever in exchange for a one-time increase in the number of insured patients. But Medicaid’s payment rates are below hospitals’ average costs, [and] the use of hospitals’ services among the newly insured will increase by about 40 percent as a result of having insurance.” If Medicaid pays hospitals less than their average costs, then inducing additional patient demand by expanding coverage could actually exacerbate hospitals’ shortfalls, not improve them.
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Legislative auditors said Wednesday they can’t confirm that the Medicaid application backlog numbers state officials have reported are correct.
Applications have been backlogged for about a year following the rocky rollout of a new computer system, an administrative decision that funneled all applications through a single state agency and a larger-than-expected influx of applications during the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period.
The auditors said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment gets the backlog number from Accenture, the contractor that built the new software platform known as the Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, or KEES.
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The Affordable Care Act has expanded Medicaid and has added to its unsustainable spending trajectory, according to a report from the Mercatus Center.
“Before the Affordable Care Act, the federal government provided states with an open-ended reimbursement of at least half of each state’s Medicaid expenditures,” the report states. “Because of the federal reimbursement, both state Medicaid spending and federal spending (through the reimbursement) have increased significantly since the program’s inception.”
According to the report, experts did not account for how states would respond to the reimbursement rate and underestimated the number of enrollees and their related costs.
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In new research published by the Mercatus Center, I analyze the causes and impact of the much higher-than-expected enrollment and spending associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansion. Though unpredicted by Washington experts, the results were predictable. The federal government’s 100% financing of state spending on expansion enrollees has led states to boost enrollment and create high payment rates. (See this 2-minute Mercatus video for additional information on this significant development.)
In states that have expanded, enrollment and per enrollee spending are nearly 50% higher than predicted. While interest groups within the states—particularly hospitals and insurers—benefit from the higher spending being charged to federal taxpayers, substantial evidence suggests much of this new spending is wasted or provides little value for its intended recipients.
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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that as president he would use Medicaid to cover poor people who can’t afford private health insurance, and make birth control available without a prescription.
The comments appeared to differ both with what some Republicans have proposed in the past, and — in the case of Medicaid — aspects of Trump’s own policy proposals on his website. Republicans generally opposed the expansion of Medicaid to higher income levels under Obamacare, for example.
Speaking on “The Dr. Oz Show,” Trump said Medicaid, the joint federal-state program for the poor, should be used to help provide health coverage for those who can’t afford to buy plans from private health insurers. The show was taped Wednesday and aired Thursday.
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One of the more controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act is its expansion of Medicaid. A new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University reviews Medicaid’s longstanding problems, discusses the incentives states face as a result of the elevated federal reimbursement rate for the ACA Medicaid expansion population, and analyzes the impact of the expansion. Overall, the expansion significantly adds to Medicaid’s unsustainable spending trajectory, likely fails to produce outcomes worth the corresponding cost, and creates a large federal government bias toward nondisabled, working-age adults at the expense of traditional Medicaid enrollees.
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This week, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce released a new plan to impose more of Obamacare on their state. The Chamber acknowledged that their “guiding principle” in crafting the Medicaid expansion plan was simply to “take advantage of all federal dollars available.” As such, they’re lobbying for policymakers to expand Medicaid to a new welfare class of more than 700,000 able-bodied adults.
Although the “plan” has few details – so far it consists solely of two PowerPoint slides – one thing is certain: it will be a more costly way to expand Obamacare that combines some of the most expensive aspects of other expansion plans from around the country.
The Obama administration is moving to end duplicate coverage for tens of thousands of people who are enrolled in Medicaid and simultaneously receiving federal subsidies to help pay for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
In the last few days, consumers around the country have received letters warning, in big black type: “People in your household may lose financial help for their marketplace coverage.”
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