According to data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the number of Rhode Islanders enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP increased by 126,486, that’s an 81% jump, from December 2008 to March 2016, and the total is rapidly approaching 30% of our entire population. Almost one in three people.
This gigantic surge resulted from the state government’s decisions to jump into the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion with both feet (and no public debate) and then to advertise its new exchange so aggressively and draw new Medicaid recipients into the system. Granted the federal government picks up more than half the tab for non-expansion enrollees and will perpetually pay most of the cost for expansion enrollees, but ratcheting up the recipient side of the equation spells trouble for the payer side of the equation at both the state and federal levels.
That’s especially true because, nationally, original projections for the expansion were way low, even on a per-enrollee basis:
… By 2022, projected per enrollee costs for this newly eligible population is more than 40 percent higher in the 2015 report than it was in the previous two years. The outer years of this projection are most important from the state perspective because it is when they will begin to bear some of the costs of the Medicaid expansion population. States that have moved forward with the Medicaid expansion might be forced to pursue significant fiscal adjustments to other aspects of their Medicaid programs, or to other components of their budgets.
In short, we’ve got more beneficiaries than expected costing more money each than expected. Where do lawmakers expect to find the money to cover this program?
Let’s play the “making matters worse” card, too. Stephen Green highlights several stories finding that fewer people are signing up for payed ObamaCare plans, and they’re less healthy than hoped (costing more to insure and care for). Meanwhile, ObamaCare is also strangling innovators and forcing small players to hand cash directly to major players with inside connections, like Blue Cross.
ObamaCare and Rhode Island’s full embrace of it were terrible, terrible ideas, and we’re all going to pay for it. Unfortunately, precious few will understand the source of our pain, and progressives and partisan Democrats (whose party is fully responsible for the result) will work overtime (often on our dime) to distract people and prevent them from allocating responsibility where it belongs.