May 14, 2015

It’s flattering. The News and Observer’s Ned Barnett must be reading our stuff. He’s talking about our frequent theme, the Medicaid Monster.

In his column, Mr. Barnett denies there is any such thing as a Medicaid Monster consuming our budget. And the lookout on the Titanic didn’t spot ice either until it was too late. (News & Observer)

While Mr. Barnett doesn’t want to discuss Medicaid’s total cost, here are the program’s costs according to Democrat State Auditor Beth Woods.

Medicaid Audit

Budget Spending

Year          Certified               Actual

2009     $11.8 billion      $12.6 billion

2010     $11.0 billion      $12.8 billion

2011      $11.9 billion      $13.2 billion

2012      $12.9 billion     $14.2 billion


Seems like a monstrous increase. And here are projections from the Governor’s budget.

Governor’s Medicaid Budget

2014      $13.8 billion

2015      $14.3 billion

2016      $14.8 billion


More large increases.

Since Ned wants everyone thinking everything is peachy keen at Medicaid, here is what his own newspaper recently reported about the newest state auditor findings. ““The state Medicaid program had accumulated $350 million in liabilities as of June 30 last year, about the same time that state health officials were boasting of a $63 million budget surplus in the government health insurance program.” (N&O, Raleigh) . That statement of fact in Mr. Barnett’s own newspaper shreds his notion everything is fine. (CPRNC)

Now here is what UVA and the credit experts of Moody’s Analytics say the Medicaid Monster is doing to state budgets and priorities like education. ““While results vary by state, the study notes that over the past several decades, the growth in state funding for discretionary spending categories has been squeezed at an alarming rate. Mandatory spending programs, specifically Medicaid, are requiring more and more state funds, leaving fewer and fewer dollars for other programs. Higher education funding has borne the brunt of much of this crowding out.” (Miller Center at UVA)

Moody’s projects North Carolina taxpayers will have to increase their payments funding the state’s share of Medicaid from $4.5 billion or 15% of the budget in 2013 to $8.5 billion or nearly 17% in 2024,squeezing other priorities, unless we fix Medicaid. (CPRNC)

The Pew Charitable Trust also examined Medicaid , finding a 29% jump in the share of state resources going to Medicaid since 2000. (CPRNC)

But Mr. Barnett just doesn’t see the problem Pew, Moody’s Analytics and UVA see in a massive entitlement that runs on autopilot, a program that is projected to keep going up in cost.

Ned Barnett apparently believes Medicaid isn’t a problem because Community Care of North Carolina says there isn’t a spending problem. And since CCNC gets paid hundreds of millions to run Medicaid, it’s natural they wouldn’t see a problem.

Conservative reformers want managed care companies to be given a chance to compete with CCNC. Competition breeds innovation and better results.

Maybe the idea will take hold. Nice to have your attention, Ned.