Medicaid spending up 14 percent

Spending on Medicaid rose nearly 14 percent on average in the past fiscal year, a report has found, largely because of a tide of newly eligible enrollees in the 29 states that had expanded the program by then to cover millions more low-income adults.

But for most of those states, the cost of the new enrollees was not higher than expected, according to the report, released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In a few cases, in fact, it was lower. And almost all of the additional spending was covered by federal funds, which are paying the entire cost of expanding Medicaid through 2016 and at least 90 percent thereafter.

Nationally, Medicaid enrollment climbed an average of 13.8 percent, and spending on the program 13.9 percent, during the 2015 fiscal year, which for most states ended on June 30. But in the states that had expanded Medicaid, enrollment increased 18 percent on average, and spending 17.7 percent.

In states that had not expanded Medicaid, enrollment grew a relatively modest 5.1 percent, and spending 6.1 percent, during the same period. In these states, the report found, most of the growth was among parents and children who were already eligible for the program but had not previously signed up.

The Affordable Care Act gave states the option of extending Medicaid coverage to nearly all adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level, or $16,242 for a single person, starting in January 2014. But many Republican-controlled states have refused.

New York Times