Medicaid Enrollment Increased 50% in Five Years
Enrollment increases in Medicaid were greater than in any other major government program over the past five years, according to a USA Today analysis of 25 government social programs (Cauchon, USA Today, 3/14).
For the analysis, USA Today reviewed enrollment and spending data from Medicare and Social Security annual reports, along with reports from the Office of Management and Budget and the Internal Revenue Service, and found that Medicaid enrollment increased 50.4% from 2000 to 2005 and that 2005 federal Medicaid spending reached $198 billion (USA Today graphic, 3/14).
The analysis found that spending on all social programs -- such as college aid, food stamps and health care -- increased to $1.3 trillion in 2005, up 22% since 2000 when adjusted for inflation. Overall enrollment increased an average of 17%, compared with a population increase of 5%, the analysis finds.
Enrollment growth accounted for about 75% of the spending increase, while higher benefits accounted for about 25% (USA Today, 3/14). Medicaid has "been broadened dramatically since welfare reform in 1996" and now is "aimed at the families of the working poor, especially children," USA Today reports.
Meanwhile, Medicare enrollment increased 6.6% from 2000 to 2005, and federal spending was about $294 billion in 2005. The new prescription drug benefit will cost about $54 billion in 2006, but it did not increase the number of people in the program.
Enrollment is poised to "explode starting in 2011 when baby boomers" begin to become eligible for Medicare, USA Today reports (USA Today graphic, 3/14).
Robert Greenstein, head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, attributed the enrollment increases in many of the programs to a rise in the poverty rate from 11.3% in 2000 to 12.7% in 2004. He said, "It's certainly better that people falling into poverty can get Medicaid, but I'd prefer fewer poor people and employers not dropping medical coverage" (USA Today, 3/14).