Stealing from Peter to Pay … Peter

We've often argued that cuts in state Medicaid expenditures might hold down growth in the state budget but don't really save any tax dollars. That's because our taxpayer-supported safety net hospitals pick up the tab for those left out of Medicaid. That tab is often more expensive because the patients seek care in the emergency room rather than a doctor's office and because — unlike Medicaid — county indigent care expenditures don't receive a federal match. None of this includes time and expertise donated by physicians who care for the uninsured or the costs that eventually get added back into insured persons' health care premiums.

Today's New York Times reports that taxpayers get hit from a different direction as well.

"Employers and consumers are paying billions of dollars more a year for medical care to compensate for imbalances in the nation's health care system resulting from tight Medicare and Medicaid budgets, according to Blue Cross officials and independent actuaries," Times health care reporter Milt Freudenheim writes.

Read the Times story.

In Washington State in 2004, for example, physicians charged private payers $620 million more to cover Medicaid and Medicare losses and hospitals passed on an extra $738 million.

We can only imagine what the numbers might be in Texas, the uninsured capital of the U.S.

"This is a serious national problem, and it is only going to get much worse," Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, a research and trade group for large employers, told the Times. "There are more uninsured, the hospitals are inefficient, and every year, Medicare and Medicaid hold down on increases to cover rising medical costs," she said.

Read our research on the "vicious cycle of the uninsured" in TMA's Healthy Vision 2010.

Published in: on June 1, 2006 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: