We are in the middle of an election cycle and there’s been a lot of talk about health care spending. While there’s no question Medicare spending continues to rise at an alarming rate, the same may not be true for Medicaid.
Inflation adjusted Medicaid spending per capita increased just 3.8% between 2002 and 2011.
States are responsible for footing part of the bill for Medicaid and for this reason states have taken action over the past few years to constrain Medicaid spending.
This information is important to keep in mind as we move forward with health care reform and health policy discussion. Medicaid spending has been kept in check because states have limited access to services and tightened requirements on who qualifies for Medicaid. The results of their efforts have controlled spending but the price being paid may be a quality of life issue for some of our most vulnerable citizens.
For example, Medicaid will pay for someone to have a knee replacement when needed but Medicaid does not have a benefit for Physical Therapy services. The knee replacement is important and beneficial for the patient but a knee that won’t bend because of lack of follow up care doesn’t add to quality of life.
If we are to truly get Medicare spending under control the lessons learned from Medicaid should provide a road map but the trek is very scary. To get spending under control, providers will be reimbursed less than cost, needed services will not be covered and a few needy people might not be allowed to participate in the program…