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.

This program aired on December 15, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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