June 10, 2011

Massachusetts and Connecticut More Generous with Medicaid than RI

Marc Comtois

Apparently RI legislators haven't gotten updated or correct numbers when it comes to the income limits for offering RIte Care (Medicaid* in RI).

The information, presented at a public hearing on Monday, portrayed Rhode Island as more generous in its RIte Care benefits than either of its neighboring states, Connecticut and Massachusetts, citing information from the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, “How Rhode Island Compares.” Rhode Island was said to allow parents to enroll at 175 percent of the poverty level, compared with 150 percent for Connecticut and 133 percent for Massachusetts.
This was important because the House is looking at making the eligibility requirements for receiving RIte Care tougher by dropping it to 133% of the poverty level. The apparent error was brought up by Mark Reynolds of the Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island.
The problem, according to Reynolds, is that the figures being used were not accurate. In Massachusetts, eligibility extends to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, and the 133 percent figure is when cost-sharing premiums kick in for the participants. In Connecticut, eligibility extends to 185 percent. (See chart.)

“From what we are hearing, there is a misperception by some in the Legislature that eligibility requirements for RIte Care are more generous than those of our bordering states,” said Reynolds. In fact, both Massachusetts and Connecticut cover parents at higher incomes than Rhode Island does today.

Here's a chart that helps explain the differences. I can't track down the RIPEC report, but comparing states' eligibility isn't always apples to apples because they differ in when benefits kick in. This seems to be the case with comparing RI to Massachusetts. As for Connecticut, I wonder if RIPEC's numbers were "accurate at the time" but CT has since changed? Regardless, the important take away is that "both Massachusetts and Connecticut cover parents at higher incomes than Rhode Island does today." I'm good with that.

*Thanks to brassband for the correction.

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"I'm good with that."

Why? Preventative care saves money.


Forcing children and pregnant women to go without insurance also allows health conditions to worsen to critical levels when they might have been treated effectively at an earlier stage. This also means all Rhode Island families will interact with more sick people than is necessary. In addition, letting necessary medical care in the emergency room results in higher private insurance premiums for insured Rhode Islanders because hospitals must recoup these costs in what they charge privately insured patients.

Let's also keep in mind that we're talking primarily about children in this program (70%) and that emergency room visits and hospitalizations have both decreased by one third since the program was implemented. Either way, you pay.

Posted by: Russ at June 10, 2011 10:02 AM

Don't you mean "Medicaid," rather than "Medicare?"

Posted by: brassband at June 10, 2011 11:47 AM

Brass, yup, thanks.

Posted by: Marc at June 10, 2011 12:21 PM

What occurred to me is what matters is the percent of income needed to carry health insurance. The percentages below are "Income Level as a Percentage of Poverty" (2007 data).

Family non-group coverage 32.6
Family employer sponsored insurance 16.2

Family non-group coverage 20.6
Family employer sponsored insurance 10.0

Family non-group coverage 12.5
Family employer sponsored insurance 6.9

What's clear is that beneath 300% there's significant risk that families will be without coverage without some type of assistance (note, most families spend around 6%).

Posted by: Russ at June 10, 2011 1:53 PM

What is the current poverty level used for these percentages in RI?

Posted by: Patrick at June 10, 2011 3:05 PM

Patrick - Based on my observations, capable of purchasing an iPhone 4, but not necessarily a full 4GB data plan.

Posted by: Dan at June 10, 2011 4:22 PM

What Russ misses here is the effect that reform of the system would have in lowering costs such that coverage would be much more affordable. But the kind of reform needed is in the direction of freer markets, which is anathema to statists who want maximum government control, so it doesn't get discussed.

There is also implicit in Russ's post (at least it seems to be, although his posts are so pointless it's hard to parse out any meaning in them) the assumption that medical care is a constitutional right and therefore the need for "assistance" is sufficient for government to force other people to provide the money.

Posted by: BobN at June 11, 2011 1:50 PM


Posted by: Russ at June 13, 2011 10:34 AM

Leftists have such creative ways of admitting defeat.

Posted by: BobN at June 13, 2011 12:36 PM

Sorry, did you have a point there? I must have missed it buried under the stawmen and red herrings.

Posted by: Russ at June 13, 2011 12:58 PM

Here let me paraphrase for you... "'care' would be much more affordable if we let the rabble die in the street rather than treat them." About right on that score?

You want to debate that nonsense, knock yourself out... on second thought, make sure you have ID and an insurance card on you before you do that or you may find yourself dumping in the alley behind the ER.

Posted by: Russ at June 13, 2011 1:07 PM

hehe, er "dumped".

Posted by: Russ at June 13, 2011 1:10 PM

Talking to Russ is like trying to teach a pig to whistle.

Posted by: BobN at June 13, 2011 2:22 PM


Posted by: Russ at June 13, 2011 2:59 PM

Yes, I know it's hard. Like a typical, unmotivated adolescent, Russ gets tired and mentally "checks out" when he doesn't understand the conversation.

Posted by: BobN at June 13, 2011 6:53 PM
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