Increased Medicaid Costs Prompt States To Remain ‘Thrifty’
The Christian Science Monitor on Friday examined how many states have treated the "current revenue boost as a momentary breath of fresh air rather than a new prevailing wind" and have remained "thrifty," as the "steady increases" in the costs of Medicaid, health care and other areas "continue to have states on edge." According to the Monitor, at least 23 states have begun to address Medicaid costs and other health care concerns, but many states maintain that they have "little control over the rising prices of nursing care and prescription drugs," despite efforts to address the issue.
Tim Keen -- assistant budget director for Ohio, one of 19 states with a Medicaid budget deficit -- said, "We have paid lots of attention to Medicaid and made substantial containment in the area of long-term care." He added, "We are hoping to hold the line on growth in those costs, but the programs are growing much more dramatically than the state economy at large" (Wood, Christian Science Monitor, 12/16).
Medicaid's "little secret" is that "it's not just a poor people's program," but a "significant" number of beneficiaries are middle-class U.S. residents who "do have political clout," Robert Reich, former secretary of labor in the Clinton administration and a professor of social and economic policy at Brandeis University, says in a commentary on APM's "Marketplace" on Wednesday. According to Reich, middle-class Medicaid beneficiaries are U.S. residents with health care "costs that could otherwise bankrupt their families," including seniors who own their homes, those who possess some savings but need nursing home care and those whose relatives have "severe" disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and HIV/AIDS.
The Medicaid program helps to prevent the middle-class from becoming poor, and lawmakers who want to reduce funding for the program are discovering that middle-class U.S. residents do not want their "last remaining safety net ripped apart," Reich concludes (Reich, "Marketplace," APM, 12/14). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.