As Costs Mount, States Warily Eye Changes to Medicaid in GOP Health Plan

Medicaid, the program providing health care to 72 million low-income and disabled people, consumed 29 percent of all state general fund dollars in 2016. That constituted the second largest share of the pie behind elementary, secondary and higher education.

A new survey by the National Association of State Budget Officers issued Thursday found that while Medicaid spending grew moderately in fiscal 2016, it began to accelerate this year at a 5.3 percent clip and is expected to continue to climb in the coming years.

States last year contributed $204.5 billion of the total $553.4 billion cost of the federal-state entitlement program. And for the first time this year, the 31 states and the District of Columbia that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to cover able-bodied, low-income, childless adults have begun contributing a small share of the cost of the program – beginning with $6.2 billion this year and an estimated $8.5 billion in fiscal 2018.

The Medicaid program has become a mounting headache for states, as Congress debates a slew of far-reaching reforms, including the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, more than $800 billion of long-term cuts to Medicaid and revolutionary changes in the way states and the federal government share the overall cost of the program.

– The Fiscal Times

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