Childhood Obesity and the Medicaid Squeeze

December 13, 2012
by Mark Funkhouser


As every governor knows, the growth in Medicaid spending is one of the major threats to states' fiscal sustainability. Medicaid currently consumes 24 percent of total states' funds. Spending on the program has grown at an annual average rate of 7.2 percent over the past decade, and that growth rate is projected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to increase to 8.1 percent in the current decade. The cost of Medicaid now exceeds that of K-12 education as the largest area of state spending and is beginning to squeeze out other programs.

Getting Medicaid spending under control might seem to be a hopeless goal, but it isn't hopeless at all. The single most effective strategy would be to return childhood obesity rates to their historic levels, and there are encouraging developments in places as diverse as New York City and Mississippi.



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