States’ Medicaid Spending Varies Widely per Beneficiary, GAO Says
In fiscal year 2008, states recorded significantly varied amounts in Medicaid spending, according to a new Government Accountability Office analysis, Modern Healthcare reports.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) requested the analysis.
According to the report, the spending differences among some states amounted to thousands of dollars. For example, in New York and seven other states, Medicaid spent about $10,500 on each beneficiary (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 7/16). The seven other states are:
- District of Columbia;
- New Hampshire;
- New Jersey;
- North Dakota; and
- Rhode Island (GAO report, June 2014).
Meanwhile California, Illinois and four other states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee -- spent less than $6,000 per beneficiary.
Medicaid spending on beneficiaries in 35 other states and Washington, D.C., ranged between those two figures, GAO said. The analysis did not include spending in Massachusetts because of data errors, Modern Healthcare reports.
More Details of GAO Report
The GAO analysis also found that:
- California spent about $3,800 per beneficiary;
- Rhode Island spent $11,700 per beneficiary;
- Alabama spent an average of $9,000 for each beneficiary with a disability; and
- New York spent an average of $32,000 for each beneficiary with a disability.
In addition, GAO found that among children, Vermont spent more than three times as much per child as California.
According to Modern Healthcare, such variances in spending can, in part, be attributed to different Medicaid beneficiary populations among states. For example, states with larger populations of elderly and disabled beneficiaries often face higher costs (Modern Healthcare, 7/16).
Specialty Drugs Put Pressure on State Medicaid Programs
In related news, Arkansas' Medicaid program has denied patients access to a cystic-fibrosis drug, citing its high annual cost of $300,000, among other reasons, the Wall Street Journal reports.
As a result, three residents with the fatal lung disease have filed a lawsuit to get the treatment, illustrating one dilemma that state Medicaid programs with limited budgets face when it comes to providing state-administered care, the Journal reports.
According to the Journal, government insurance programs are struggling to provide Medicaid coverage for certain services -- particularly new drugs that might be more effective and more costly -- in a country with more than 70 million low-income beneficiaries. State Medicaid programs are required to provide most FDA-approved drugs, unless there are alternative and equally beneficial treatments, according to the Journal (Walker, Wall Street Journal, 7/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.