Medicaid spending soars beyond projections – again

chriswest2016 General Assembly

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Medicaid spending soars beyond projections – again
August 1, 2016

The fact that cost projections for new government programs almost always fall laughably short is so well-known that further examples might seem almost superfluous. Here’s one anyway.

Federal number-crunchers have had to revise their estimates for the cost of new Medicaid enrollees — again. The figures apply to those individuals who are signing up because of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

In 2013, actuaries estimated the cost per new enrollee in 2015 would be $3,976. The next year, they bumped that figure up to $4,281. This year (the 2015 report came out only recently) the figure has soared to $6,366. To make matters worse, they actually had predicted that costs would fall from 2014.

Multiply such increases by the millions of new beneficiaries, and it turns out that current projections show Medicaid spending will actually rise nearly $250 billion more than already anticipated.

Note that this huge jump in spending has taken place even though a number of states, including Virginia, have declined to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Virginia can’t decide whether to expand Medicaid based on cost alone. Everything costs money, and some things are very much worth it. We would have liked to see the state adopt the Marketplace Virginia proposal, which resembles House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare.

Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly didn’t like that option. Time and again they have harped on expansion’s price tag and warned that it could grow much bigger than expansion’s advocates would admit. On that score, at least, they were right.