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Medicaid spending slows across US

By , - Last modified: October 26, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Total Medicaid spending increases for fiscal year 2012 marked a near-record low, according to a new survey from Health Management Associates, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and the Kaiser Family Foundation

According to the survey, Medicaid spending across the nation increased just 2 percent in 2012, less than the 2.2 percent states had budgeted for and below the rates in 2009 to 2011, which exceeded 7 percent. Spending is projected to increase 3.8 percent in 2013, which the survey says would still be one of the three lowest rates of growth in total Medicaid spending in the past 15 years.

Enrollment growth also was down; the 3.2 percent recorded in 2012 was the lowest since 2008, and 2013 is expected to be even lower at 2.7 percent.

The survey attributed the low rates to two factors: An improving economy and "intense state efforts to mitigate the increase in state spending driven by the expiration of enhanced federal matching payments."

Forty-eight states instituted at least one new policy to control costs, with the most common being limits on provider payments, benefits and strategies to control prescription drug spending.

Pennsylvania enhanced its online application process, applied existing eligibility policies more rigorously, eliminated endodontic services, limited dentures to one per lifetime and limited dental cleanings to two per year.

Eligibility levels remained stable in most states, according to the survey, and in many states Medicaid programs are changing their delivery systems via managed care reform or care coordination strategies.

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