The Health Costs That Ate A State

“Oh my,” I expostulated when I saw some of the latest figures from The Boston Foundation.

I was looking at the foundation’s new report on how staff health care costs have been sucking up all the education money that is supposed to be going to improving schools. The lack of money for schooling was bad enough, but what particularly terrified me was the rate of change at which health care costs are gobbling up state spending, at the expense of other state functions from parks to public health.

You see, I’d just gotten acquainted with the parallel findings for the previous year. In that chart (below), state spending on health had risen 65% since 2001. In the new chart, (above) incorporating 2010, that number had jumped to 76%.

I couldn’t help thinking of that rapidly rising number today as I read an excellent report by the State House News Service about Medicaid and its budget-busting rise in these recessionary times. It’s in the Globe here.

Massachusetts taxpayers have delivered more revenue to the state Treasury nearly every month since October 2009, but the Patrick administration still faces a significant budget gap, largely because of soaring costs in the state Medicaid program,

it says. And:

The trends point toward an entitlement program with runaway costs that is absorbing new state revenues and leaving services in areas such as public safety, human services, education, and local aid subject to continuing budget cuts.

State: Mass. Health Coverage Hits 98%

Just a smidgen away from truly universal health insurance coverage…This just in from state officials on the latest Massachusetts figures:

The Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP) is pleased to announce the results of its latest Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey. DHCFP has found that the success of Massachusetts’ health reform continues, with more than 98 percent of residents having health insurance, which reflects an increase since 2009. Only 1.9 percent of state residents remain uninsured in 2010. Nearly every major demographic group is within a few percentage points of universal coverage.
The survey results show that nearly all elderly adults (more than 99 percent) and children (more than 99 percent) are insured, as are 97 percent of non-elderly adults ages 19 to 64.

The full report is here.

Daily Rounds: Deval On Immigrants; Hip Implants Recalled; Public Employees’ Coverage; NPR On Primary Care

Patrick says health care for immigrants may not come to end
Hopes to use federal funds to help pay for their insurance. (Boston Globe)

J. and J. Recalls Hip Implants
Patients with the DePuy Orthopedics hip implants should get them checked. (The New York Times)

States Press Workers on Health Care
And state workers push back against helping pay for their health care. (Wall Street Journal)

Future Of Primary Care? Some Say ‘Medical Home’
Part Two of the NPR series “Primary Care Under Pressure.” (NPR)