It seems that every time the National Association of
State Budget Officers (NASBO) releases a new report on the state of state
budgets, another blog or paper is written to correct a
misrepresentation of Medicaid’s role. Now, this is certainly not meant to be
disparaging against NASBO – their reports are a definitive source on state
spending. It’s more to get people to read all of page 1 of their most recent
report prior to commenting.
If you stop at this sentence, it would seem as if
Medicaid, as some say, is gobbling up state budgets:
The components of total state spending for estimated
fiscal 2010 are: Medicaid, 21.8%; elementary and secondary education, 20.8%;
higher education, 10.1%; transportation, 8.1%; corrections, 3.1%; public
assistance, 1.7%; and all other expenditures, 34.4%.
But keep reading the very next sentence and you’ll get a
more complete picture:
For estimated fiscal 2010, components of general fund
spending are elementary and secondary education, 35.7%; Medicaid, 15.4%; higher
education, 12.1%; corrections, 7.2%; public assistance, 1.9%; transportation,
0.8%; and all other expenditures, 27.0%.
The first sentence includes the federal matching funds
that come into the state and I hope most people can agree that federal matching
funds, while important both to the Medicaid program and to the economy in the
state, are not actually state dollars.
So if you want to talk about Medicaid as a share of state
spending, the second sentence is the far more accurate figure.