Adam Crain

Medicaid By the Numbers

November 7, 2016

Adam Crain

If the South Carolina Department of Health & Human Services were to start spending the state portion of our Medicaid budget today at rate of $1 per second, we would be spending money until January 2081.

If we kept spending at that rate until we spent the entire SC Medicaid budget (federal and state dollars), we would be spending until February 2230!

That is stunning.

So how much money is this? How much money would we have spent in all of that time? Check out Medicaid in South Carolina, a new fact sheet from Palmetto Promise Institute that lays out what taxpayers contribute to Medicaid in the Palmetto State and how the program has grown over the years.

Why are these facts relevant now? These facts are relevant in November because next month the SC General Assembly will hold its organizational session to prepare for convening in January. Though many fresh new faces will fill the chambers of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly, the 50-year-old battle over runaway Medicaid spending will continue.

One re-emerging battle will be the fight over whether Medicaid eligibility in South Carolina should be expanded to able-bodied adults, as is called for under Obamacare. Since President Obama signed the (Un)Affordable Care Act in 2010, Governor Haley and conservative members of the Legislature have remained steadfast in their opposition to Medicaid expansion. Palmetto Promise Institute’s publication, Unaffordable Care: Why Medicaid Expansion is Bad Medicine for South Carolina, provides an in depth look at why, despite an unprecedented level of matching funds from Washington, Medicaid expansion is fiscally irresponsible.

But, Unaffordable Care is fourteen pages. By all reasonable measures, that’s a very brief treatment of an incredibly complicated subject. But it could still gather dust.

So, how about a report of a single page?

Available now is Palmetto Promise Institute’s one-page snapshot of the SC Medicaid story. It isn’t the whole story. It does not prescribe a new policy initiative or, in and of itself, argue against Medicaid expansion, but it does lay out there for all to see how much we spent on Medicaid in 2015 in South Carolina.

The burning question is this: are patients really getting $6.7 trillion worth of care, or could there be a better way to both compassionately take care of South Carolinians in need and be fiscally responsible for the health of the state itself?

Take a look at our new 20,000 foot view of Medicaid and join the conversation online.

And if you are interested in reform proposals, here is a solid source.