Currently, large and growing revenue shortfalls are pushing the state budget out of balance. In this tightening fiscal climate, there is even more debate than usual about the cost of Maine’s Medicaid program, MaineCare. Very often, this debate has focused on overall cost comparisons among states, typically painting MaineCare in an unflattering — and as it turns out — unjust light. Such comparisons tend to ignore the crucial underlying factors which give rise to variations among states in Medicaid spending. A closer examination of these factors reveals both why MaineCare’s costs appear higher than those of many other states, and more importantly, how these higher levels of spending on MaineCare actually save Maine money. Our analysis concludes that the single most important strategy for reducing costs in the MaineCare program will be to address the high overall cost of health care in Maine.
By Christine Hastedt, Ana Hicks, and Kurt Wise