Total costs for Medicaid is up despite the fact that per-person spending for traditional Medicaid is way down. Get the details here. What could explain this discrepancy? It is because of expanded Medicaid coverage for able-bodied adults under Obamacare, disingenuously called first “The Private Option” and then relabeled with minor tweaks as “Arkansas Works”. As hard as it is to believe, the legislature and the Hutchinson administration are trimming every dollar that they can to traditional Medicaid groups and shoveling those dollars and more over to Obamacare Medicaid expansion. More about why in a bit…
The article at the link above shows that coverage dollars for these “Arkansas Works” folks went UP 3.4% while coverage costs per person, while spending for traditional Medicaid went down on a per person basis. Total costs are rising because about a tenth of the time when someone signs up for “Arkansas Works” they send them to traditional Medicaid instead. So our state’s integration with Obamacare is swelling the ranks of both Medicaid programs to the budgetary breaking point.
It is going to get worse. Arkansas was finally forced to purge its Obamacare rolls of thousands of people who were not eligible for the program, often because they no longer lived here or already had other coverage. People in those groups did not cost us a lot of money (but insurance providers still collected payments from FEDGOV for them). Now that they are gone, expect average costs to go up because a lot of people who were recently purged from the rolls were not using any benefits because they were not even here or already had other coverage. In addition, at the mid-point of this fiscal year the FEDS started asking Arkansas to take what will be an increasing share of the costs. If we don’t start shedding folks from this program it will be a fiscal disaster for us.
The Governor is trying to brace for it, but so far he seems to be caught in a trap of his own making. He wanted to suck every dollar he could out of taxpayers when DC was collecting the taxpayers’ money, but now that those dollars are starting to come out of the state budget he is scrambling.
The Governor is pushing hard to drive down the costs of traditional Medicaid- maybe in a way which will impact services for the truly needy and disabled. But he seems to be doing it to find fiscal room to keep the other Medicaid program- the one from Obamacare for able-bodied adults. So far most of his hard choices have fallen squarely on the shoulders of traditional Medicaid. Why would he cut money for the disabled, the elderly, and children and shift the Medicaid money to able-bodied adults? It is because the state pays a bigger share of the tab in traditional Medicaid than it does in Obamacare Medicaid. He can get back over 90% of every state dollar he spends on Obamacare Medicaid, but only sixty-something percent for traditional Medicaid.
This perversely cuts services to the very ones that most people don’t mind paying taxes for, such as the blind, those with autism, and other disabled people in order to keep funding for health care for able-bodied adults. At some point, we are going to have to get some kind of priority other than taking as much taxpayer money as DC is willing to hand out.
The Republicans are just acting to get the hospitals and insurance companies every borrowed dollar from Washington they can get, and the Democrats are going along with it because the root program is Obamacare. They don’t seem capable of admitting there are problems with the program- including giving them and the Republicans an incentive to cut services to disabled children in order to fund more healthcare for able-bodied adults! If you think its time to give someone else a chance besides these two DC-based parties, please print off ONE petition to put Neighbors on the ballot. Then get it signed, and send it into us at the address on the bottom of this page. If we each do a little it can add up to a lot. Will you please do a little today?