One reason why fiscal reform is difficult

Joblessness and the accompanying loss of health benefits drove an additional 3.7 million people into the Medicaid program last year, the largest single-year increase since the early days of the government insurance plan, according to an annual survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Enrollment in the program, which provides comprehensive coverage to the low-income uninsured, grew by 8.2 percent from December 2008 to December 2009, the second-largest rate of increase in the 10 years that Kaiser has conducted the survey. There were 48.5 million people on Medicaid at the end of 2009, or about one of every six Americans.

The article is here.  The dilemma is simple: variations in Medicaid coverage account for a lot of the variation in the health of state government finances.  Yet if states cut back on Medicaid in some manner, there will be more people on the more expensive subsidized exchanges, come the full onset of the Obama health plan.


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