Medicaid spending steadies with hospital payment cuts

After years of fairly high spending and enrollment trends in the Medicaid program, both have tapered off significantly this year and are expected to remain flat in 2013, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Enrollment in Medicaid grew only 3.2 percent this year, while spending grew just 2 percent. That compares to a 9.7 percent spending bump in 2011 and a 4.4 percent increase in enrollment, according to the Kaiser data.

Spending on Medicaid is projected to grow 3.7 percent in 2013, while enrollment will climb 2.7 percent.

Much of the spending curbs came in the form of payment cuts to hospitals and other medical providers, along with the elimination of ancillary benefits such as dental and vision coverage, according to The New York Times. Moreover, much of the additional Medicaid funding from the stimulus package also began tapering off.

"Reining in costs remains the dominant theme," Diane Rowland, a Kaiser Family Foundation executive vice president, said last week in a statement. However, Rowland noted "the improving economy has offered states more leeway to move forward on delivery system reforms and implementation of the Affordable Care Act."

The report pointed out some providers, such as physicians, will receive payment bumps in 2014 as part of the ACA.

For more information:
- read the Kaiser Family Foundation statement
- check out the report (.pdf)
- read the New York Times article