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March 5, 1997

Are Medicaid Reforms on the Horizon?

JAMA. 1997;277(9):697. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540330021007

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POLICY ANALYSTS have some good news and some bad news on the Medicaid front.

First, the good news. For the first time in many years, the increase in spending for the state-federal health care program for the poor has slowed to single digits and projections indicate that spending increases will stay low for the next 5 years.

In a recent report sponsored by the Kaiser Commission on the Future of Medicaid, analysts from the Urban Institute in Washington, DC, say Medicaid spending rose by 3.2% in 1996 and by an average of 9.5% annually from 1992 to 1995. From now until 2002, they project annual spending increases to be about 7.5%.

"There's no good reason to think it will grow like it has in the past," said John Holahan, PhD, director of health policy research at the Urban Institute and an author of the report.

But there's a cloud surrounding