Seven Days | January 13, 2016

January 13, 2016

Mushrooming Medicaid Costs Create a State Budget Crisis
Medicaid, a 50-year-old government health insurance program for the poor and disabled, is in the crosshairs of some state policy makers because of its skyrocketing cost. In the past five years, total spending for all the services tucked under Vermont's Medicaid umbrella rose $366 million. The state and federal governments share the annual cost, which came to $1.7 billion last year. Of that, Vermont paid $738 million.

Consumer advocates get nervous when they hear talk of shrinking eligibility and benefits. "I'm pretty worried about any of the alternatives other than finding another revenue source," said Trinka Kerr, the state health advocate [and director of Vermont Legal Aid's Office of the Health Care Advocate]. "They would hurt people. If you reduce some benefit, that has a downstream impact on people's health."