States Avoid Benefit Reductions To Retain Medicaid Funds, Survey Finds
States do not have the "political will" to reduce Medicaid benefits because they depend on federal matching funds to finance other state programs and subsidize hospitals and nursing homes, according to a recent study conducted by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, the AP/Albany Times Union reports. The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, analyzed 10 randomly selected states -- Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
According to the study, rather than reduce Medicaid benefits, states with budget deficits in recent years have reduced funds for other programs, increased taxes or obtained more federal Medicaid matching funds to address the issue. The study also found that states in recent years have targeted higher education, transportation and environmental programs for budget reductions but have left budgets for health care and elementary and secondary education programs "relatively untouched," the AP/Times Union reports. Courtney Burke, one of the researchers involved with the study, said that states have not reduced Medicaid benefits because of political considerations and because the program helps with economic development and serves a large number of residents (Gormley, AP/Albany Times Union, 8/11). The study is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the study.