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Cost Of Expanding Oregon Medicaid Could Be Smaller

OPB | July 2, 2014 12:10 p.m. | Updated: July 2, 2014 2:11 p.m. | Portland

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Oregon’s efforts to expand Medicaid might not be as expensive as first believed, according to a new study by the Pew Charitable Trust.

The study looked at the growth of Medicaid costs over 12 years. The national average was 4.1 percent each year. Oregon’s growth was similar at 4.3 percent.

But researcher, Kavita Choudhry, said the data also show that newly enrolled Medicaid recipients tend to be cheaper because they’re healthy. “The expansion population, those individuals that are newly eligible, are adults, and we’ve seen from historical data that the cost of covering adults without disabilities is relatively lower per individual,” she said.

Choudhry said Medicaid costs for a healthy adult stand at about $3,000 a year. That compares to $16,000 for the average disabled recipient.

Oregon expanded Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. Initially, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of newly eligible people.

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