Rhode Island Medicaid Costs Going Up

There has been a lot of press recently over the increased costs associated with the state unemployment program. Today The Providence Journal highlights another recession-related increase in another program:

The state’s Medicaid rolls grew by more than 1,000 people a month during the second half of 2009, shooting upward as more Rhode Islanders turned to the state for help after losing their jobs and their health insurance.

The increases have forced state officials to raise their cost estimates by $17 million — an amount the Carcieri administration hopes to make up through midyear budget adjustments and savings proposals that are being reviewed by the General Assembly.

As of December, enrollment in RIte Care, a Medicaid program that provides insurance for parents, pregnant women and children who meet the state’s income guidelines, was up 6.7 percent from a year earlier, to 111,646. And enrollment in RIte Share, which helps people who have access to employer-sponsored health coverage but fall within the RIte Care income guidelines, was up 8.3 percent, to 10,377.

“We’ve had a dramatic increase in our caseload, because of the economy,” said Gary D. Alexander, director of the state Department of Human Services. “People are in need, and our expenses are going to keep going up.”

This is an issue we have addressed in our own research, specifically, Medicaid and the costs of long-term care. To read our recently released report on this, click here.

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