Health impact question UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Health impact question UPDATE

Posted By on Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 12:15 AM

I'm shortly to board a plane for home, so I'm not readily able to investigate this question. But perhaps an informed reader is at hand.

Gov. Mike Beebe caterwauled yesterday that the cost of extending health care to millions of Americans and untold thousands in Arkansas through a bill before the House today could add $200 million to the state's Medicaid budget. A big number.

Has anybody addressed the actual cost to the state? Isn't Medicaid spending typically at a 3-1 federal match, so a $200 million increase would mean about $50 million in state spending? Not small change, to be sure, but against a general revenue budget 100 times that size, not quite so much, with some very real benefits to sick Arkansans along the way.

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross is already wailing about tax increases on Arkansas families to pay for the outrage of trying to cover the one in four in his district with no coverage.

Can somebody help on this question?

UPDATE: the governor's office informs me (and I'm now on-line in a plane between NYC and Chicago) that the estimate was generated by the state of Arkansas and represents only state obligations. I think it requires some more digging still. But if the state puts $200 million more into Medicaid (some of which apparently would represent simply a shuffle of money already being spent) it would produce triple that in federal money, wouldn't it? Anyway, the explanation so far:

From Matt Decample:

The $205 million estimate is strictly based on state share and does not include the federal match dollars.  It is the estimated impact on state general revenue based on two provisions in the bill:

1)  Increasing medicaid eligibility to 150% of federal poverty level
2)  Increased costs of covering children already enrolled in ARKids First due to the loss of federal funding under SCHIP.

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