West Virginia's share of funding its Medicaid program increased from $335 million in 1996 to $651 million last year, The Associated Press and others report.The numbers come from a new study by The Center on Budget and Policy, whose backers include labor unions and religious groups.
The study found that while state funding nearly doubled, "Medicaid recipients went from about 350,000 to roughly 390,000," AP reports. "But Medicaid spending has actually dropped as a percentage of overall state spending, accounting for about 10 percent last year, compared with 10.5 percent in 1997."
Center Executive Director Ted Boettner told The Charleston Gazette that "People think Medicaid spending is out of control, and that's not the case."
The Gazette offers other details from the report and the state's Medicaid program:
- When combined with federal funding, which accounts for 75 percent of total Medicaid dollars, more than $2.2 billion was spent on the health-insurance program in 2007;
- About two-thirds of West Virginia's total Medicaid budget goes to provide services to the elderly and disabled, according to the study. The remaining money helps children, low-income parents and pregnant women;
- Medicaid pays for about half of all births in West Virginia;
- West Virginia also spends more per Medicaid recipient - $6,285 - than any bordering state. By contrast, Kentucky spends $4,964 per enrollee, and Maryland and Ohio spend about $5,800 per Medicaid recipient;
- Medicaid isn't just a health insurance program. It also pays for long-term care at nursing homes and at beneficiaries' private residences.