Minnesota Sees Increase in Number of Those Needing Medicaid

An article in the Star Tribune reported today that the number of Minnesotans on Medicaid – called Medical Assistance in Minnesota – shot up at nearly twice the national rate over the past two years, while state costs increased by 40 percent.  The total number of Minnesotans enrolled in the state-federal health insurance program increased by 125,000 in the last to years to reach a total of about 733,000.

The National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers issued a report this week stating that the growing Medicaid budget – approximately $450 billion this year – will place a large burden on sates trying to climb out of the most recent recession.

A large part of the rise in Minnesota’s portion of the cost — from $2.9 billion in 2011 to an estimated $4.05 billion this year — is due to two things: 1) enrollees who transferred into Medicaid and out of programs that were funded solely by the state; and 2) the end of the federal government’s economic stimulus package, which for a time raised the federal Medicaid match from about 50 percent to 60 percent.

Medicaid was set up by Congress in 1965 to provide health care to low-income adults and children, including some people with disabilities; it also covers about two-thirds of people in nursing homes who have outlived their savings. While low-income families represent the majority of people on Medicaid, most of its outlays go to long-term care for the elderly and disabled.

Minnesota’s program is expected to add another 60,000 people by the end of 2014 with further expansion of the federal Affordable Care Act, if the law’s expansion of Medicaid rolls survives the recent Supreme Court challenge.

In 2014, Minnesota’s Medicaid costs are expected to rise by about 10 percent, surpassing $4.4 billion, while the federal share is forecast to soar 23 percent to $5.1 billion with the program’s expansion.

In many states, Medicaid is the largest single portion of state spending, at nearly a quarter of state budgets, and some states are struggling to control costs by cutting provider payments, drug costs and other benefits, the report said,

With all this uncertainty, people should think about the possible long-term care needs not just for themselves but for parents or even grandparents.  We can’t rely on government programs to be there 2, 5 or 10 years from now.  I meet people weekly who are having to make decisions on what to do for Dad or Mom – in some cases a spouse – when they can no longer care for themselves and neither can the family.  Please plan now.