State Medicaid Coverage, Costs Grow In Maryland, Mississippi

"A year into a new effort to expand health coverage, recession-weary Marylanders are flocking to the state's Medicaid program in numbers far greater than expected, costing the state $50 million more in the process," The Baltimore Sun reports. "As of this week, 44,255 additional state residents had enrolled in Maryland's Medicaid system after income limits were significantly relaxed, outpacing projections that enrollment would increase by 26,605." Health advocates say "the state is doing the right thing by expanding publicly funded health care to adults who have children," but "increased enrollment has also enlarged the price tag." And "while the federal government picks up half the cost, the higher expenses come as Maryland is battling severe budget shortfalls. State health spending has been propped up this year by a major influx of stimulus dollars. Proponents had hoped to extend the public plan to adults without children this year, but the initiative was a victim of state budget constraints" (Fisher, 7/2).

In Mississippi, "a state the federal government already rates weak in health care," people are "losing health insurance and choosing to either forego treatment or join the uninsured filling waiting rooms at subsidized clinics and emergency rooms," The Clarion-Ledger reports. Twenty percent of Mississippians lack health insurance, and "since 2000, the percent of Mississippians who have health insurance through their employers has declined from 59 percent to 49 percent. Much of that decline has been seen in small business, which make up three-fourths of Mississippi's businesses. Only 28 percent of those employers offered health benefits - compared to 38 percent nationally" (Mitchell, 7/2).

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