Spending on Medicaid could outpace economic growth

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Medicaid spending is set to riseThe amount of money spent on Medicaid could place significant stress on federal and state budgets over the next decade, according to forecasts from the U.S. Department and Health and Human Services.

In fact, spending is expected to rise by an average of 7.9 percent each year over the next 10 years, a rate of growth which is larger than that of the overall economy, the report indicates.

Medicaid is a joint state and federal program that provides insurance for low-income households. It cost approximately $333.2 billion to fund in 2007, with the federal government paying 57 percent of that cost.

HHS predicts that the total cost could reach $647 billion by 2017, with enrollment in the program expected to hit 55.1 million by that year.

"This report should serve as an urgent reminder that the current path of Medicaid spending is unsustainable for both federal and state governments," commented HHS secretary Mike Leavitt.

He urged action to make sure the program remains "fiscally sound."

Last month, a Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Education Trust report found that U.S. health insurance premiums rose by an average of 5 percent last year.
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