Rationing: States Limiting Hospital Stays for Medicaid Patients

By Susan Jones | October 24, 2011 | 8:13am EDT

(CNSNews.com) - As Obama stimulus dollars run out, more and more states are "sharply" limiting hospital stays for Medicaid patients in an effort to contain costs, USA Today reported on Monday.

Hawaii plans to cut Medicaid hospital coverage to 10 days a year in April, the fewest of any state; and by November, Arizona plans to limit adult Medicaid beneficiaries to 25 days in the hospital.

Critics say the moves will restrict access to care, force hospitals to absorb more costs and lead to higher charges for privately insured patients, whose hospital stays are generally not limited, USA Today reported.

Higher enrollment, rising medical costs -- and the end of federal stimulus dollars -- are expected to boost state Medicaid spending by as much as 19 percent in 2012, according to one estimate cited in the newspaper report.

The federal government shares the costs of Medicaid with the states, but the states set their own guidelines on Medicaid eligibility and services provided. Medicaid is available only to certain low-income individuals and families who fit into certain eligibility groups, such as age or disability.

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