Super Committee Stalemate Would Leave Medicaid Untouched

The automatic cuts under Obama's deficit reduction plan do not include Medicaid, a potential win for states.
by | September 22, 2011

A potential impasse in Congress's deficit reduction "super committee" could yield an unexpected benefit for states worried about inflating Medicaid cost. The health insurance program is exempt from the automatic cuts that would occur if the committee can't reach an agreement, Bloomberg reports.

States spend $430 billion annually on Medicaid, which takes an average of 22 percent of their budget. Many suspect it could be a target for the super committee, Bloomberg's Megan Hughes reports. Some state governors, such as Mississippi's Haley Barbour have said they wouldn't be opposed to cuts to the program, as long at they were reasonable and offered some flexibility.

But if across-the-board cuts were enacted, other discretionary state programs such as education, labor and transportation would endure most of the resulting reductions, Joy Johnson Wilson, a member of the NCSL's Federal Affairs Counsel, told Bloomberg.

Medicaid's costs to states have risen sharply during the recession, as more people have been forced to enroll, Hughes reports. 50 million people now participate in the program, up 19 percent from 2007. By 2019, another 20 million are expected to join under the new federal health care law.

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