MEDICAID MONSTER MUNCHES THE BUDGET

Since the voters elected a Republican Legislature in 2010 for the first time in over a hundred years, they’ve balanced the budget, reduced debt and reformed the tax code.

And government spending growth has been brought under control. In fact, spending growth is less than 2.5% a year.

But another glaring fact can’t be swept under the rug. Out of control Medicaid spending is devouring the money we need for critical priorities in education, infrastructure and economic development.

Look at the numbers. Medicaid consumed $1.2 billion of the $1.9 billion increase in the budget over four years. And while the Medicaid entitlement is exploding at double digit rates, the rest of the budget grows 1%.

Category

2010-11 Budget

2014-15 Budget

$pending Increase

Annualized Change

Total Budget

$ 19,103,920,071

$ 21,068,550,145

$ 1,964,630,074

2.48%

Medicaid*

$ 2,456,689,313

$   3,688,548,213

$ 1,231,858,900

10.69%

All Other GF Spending

$ 16,647,230,758

$ 17,380,001,932

$ 732,771,174

1.08%

* The General Assembly has also made $1,596,000,000 in emergency one time appropriations to Medicaid to fill budget holes between 2011 and 2014

Clearly, the new conservative majority in the Legislature has done a good job keeping a lid on spending. But Medicaid hasn’t been fixed. And it’s squeezing out education and other priorities.

ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion will pour gasoline on the fire. Real reform, not baby steps, is needed. It’s time we unleash free market competition between Medicaid managed care companies and healthcare provider groups to bring costs under control. Teacher raises and economic progress depend on it.