Health care and the Massachusetts budget

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission’s 2013 Cost Trends Report [link replaced by one to the 2014 report which has a similar figure] is loaded with interesting reading and charts. The first chart is this:

mass budget

The chart shows growth between 2001 and 2014 in state spending on health care on the left. The category includes spending for the Group Insurance Commission (GIC), which provides coverage to state and municipality employees, MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, and other coverage, like subsidies for private insurance under the state’s health reform. This category of spending grew 37% over the 14 year period. (This amount of growth seems low for such a long period of time, but the figures are adjusted for GDP growth. That is, this is growth in excess of economic growth.)

But many other areas of spending–including those directly relevant to health–lost ground. These are shown on the right: mental health, public health, education, human services, infrastructure, housing and economic development, law and public safety, and local aid.

This alone doesn’t prove that health care spending is causally crowding out spending on other priorities in exactly the amounts shown. But we know it is to some extent, and is so, not just in Massachusetts, but everywhere. It’s a fair bet that the chart above reflects that.


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