Oregon’s increasing Medicaid cost

Oregon Health Plan cost

by NW Spotlight

A column in the Statesman Journal back in May noted “One in four Oregonians is on Medicaid, the government health care payment system for the poor. That does not include older Oregonians who are on Medicare.”

Who’s paying for all that? Right now it’s mostly “free money” from Washington D.C. – “free” meaning it’s paid from federal taxes we send to the IRS and from debt we’re leaving to our children and grandchildren.  But it looks like soon more of that will have to be paid for out of our state budget.

Yesterday the Associated Press reported that Oregon had underestimated the price tag of the Medicaid expansion. “The Health Plan is Oregon’s Medicaid program, and as hundreds of thousands of people became newly eligible last year under [Obamacare], most of them signed up. In the first year, enrollment was 73 percent higher than anticipated, according to data from the Oregon Health Authority.

The bill will be soon be coming due, however, as the state begins sharing the costs. The Affordable Care Act said the federal government would cover 100 percent of medical costs only until 2017, when its share would begin dropping to 90 percent.”

The May column in the Statesman Journal also noted “Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, is also raising the alarm about when the federal government will stop paying 95 percent of the Medicaid expansion costs next year, which will cost Oregon over $1 billion. Kruse further warns that tax provisions in Obamacare could cost Oregon an additional $1 billion in 2017, and that there are possible costs to repay the feds for the $300 million wasted on Cover Oregon.”

Keep an eye on this – it has huge potential impact on the next state budget.

Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin), Oregon budget committee co-chair, was quoted in the AP article yesterday saying that increasing the hospital tax could help cover part of the budget shortfall, but that “Ultimately, Oregon needs the improving economy to get more people off the Medicaid rolls.

Amen to that!