Briefs & Reports

Kaiser Health News: Medicaid Spending Growth Drops As Enrollment Slows

Vern K. Smith, PhD
Kathy D. Gifford
Eileen Ellis

In a sign of the improving national economy, Medicaid spending growth this year slowed to 2 percent as enrollment in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor also slowed for the third consecutive year, according to a report released Thursday.

In 2011, Medicaid spending soared by nearly 10 percent, which helped put the entitlement program in the crosshairs of politicians looking to lower the federal deficit and ease pressure on state budgets. The increase this year is the smallest since 2006, said the report, based on a 50-state survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Advocates and critics of Medicaid clashed over the significance of the trend. Supporters viewed it as a sign of costs coming under control, while those that want the program overhauled said history shows spending will again surge.

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