Savings possible with state Medicaid expansions
The Kansas City Star
More evidence that state lawmakers should get the data before rejecting out of hand an expansion of Medicaid limits comes in a new report from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. The report says Missouri’s Medicaid costs would increase just 2.6 percent over 10 years if it raises Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as called for in the Affordable Care Act. Kansas’s Medicaid costs would increase by only 1.8 percent. Those numbers take into account the savings states would attain by no longer having to pay hospitals millions of dollars to treat uninsured patients.
The Kaiser report doesn’t account for further savings for states, as many people who currently receive aid, such as medically needy adults and mentally ill persons, would be covered by the expanded limits.
Also, as the report notes, the federal government will pay all of the costs of the expansion for three years, and not less than 90 percent after that. That will mean billions of dollars coming into states to expand medical networks, with a hefty boost to economic activity.
The Kaiser report, prepared in cooperation with the Urban Institute, isn’t the definitive word on what Medicaid expansions will cost states. Getting at accurate numbers is an incredibly complex task, and the people who are ultimately best suited to achieve it are likely to be the analysts in state budget offices.
The Missouri Hospital Association is expected to add to the mix of data on Wednesday with the release of a study on the impact of a Medicaid expansion and its effect on the state’s economy. Several more studies are forthcoming in Missouri and Kansas.
But indications so far are that Medicaid expansions up to the limits called for in the federal health care law will not be overly burdensome for either Missouri or Kansas, and both states may actually see savings and revenues from complying with the law.