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Checking on Medicaid math

A post by Carter Wrenn on the blog, Talking About Politics:

It’s unusual to see a dust up in front of the TV cameras on NC Spin but when Brad Crone said Medicaid spending has been stable for three years the usually soft-spoken John Hood shot back, Brad’s incorrect.

Crone leaned back, told Hood he needed to look at the audit reports that showed Medicaid spending had remained at $3.6 billion for the last three years – and Hood said, That’s ludicrous.

In fact, over the last three years, state Medicaid has spent $3,6, $3.4 and $3.6 billion – so Brad was correct. But John wasn’t entirely incorrect. Instead he was “spinning” – by talking about next year’s state budget (where Medicaid spending is projected to shoot up by $250 million).

So are doctors’ fees rising? Are hospitals charging more? No. The problem’s not pediatricians or surgeons; it’s the state legislature.

Two-thirds of the Medicaid spending increase is due to one fact: New people enrolling in the program. And only the legislature can cut enrollment. Doctors can’t. Hospitals can’t. The governor can’t. But the legislature can and if it practiced a little entitlement reform it could cut the new spending by reducing the number of people who are eligible for Medicaid – but legislators aren’t anxious to tackle that porcupine.

Instead, the Old Bull Mooses in the Senate have proposed to spend $350 million to pay MCOs (Medicaid HMOs) to take over Medicaid, but there’s a hitch there too:

MCOs can’t cut enrollment either.

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