The Medicaid Pac-Man: How Medicaid Is Consuming State Budgets

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Medicaid is a welfare program that was originally created to provide basic medical care for individuals with nowhere else to turn. But over time, the program has grown exponentially, particularly in the last decade. Today, it is one of the largest and fastest-growing items in state budgets.

As Medicaid continues to grow, fewer dollars are left over for other important budget items, such as education, public safety, and infrastructure.

It is not just that Medicaid is growing faster than other items and consuming more of the pie—Medicaid is also consuming dollars that could go to other important priorities. Every dollar that is diverted to Medicaid is a dollar that cannot be spent on education or public safety or infrastructure, given that the same dollar cannot be spent twice. This is the Medicaid Pac-Man.