Most state Emergency Medicaid spending funds childbirth and pregnancy-related complications for uninsured women, emergency care for sudden-onset problems and end-stage complications of chronic conditions, says a new study from researchers at the university and the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence.
According to the study, Emergency Medicaid spending, which represents about one percent of the stateâ€™s Medicaid budget, increased 28 percent, from $41.3 million in 2001 to $52.9 million in 2004. Emergency Medicaid reimburses hospitals for emergency care provided to patients who would otherwise qualify for Medicaid but are ineligible because federal law excludes undocumented and legal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for less than five years. According to the Government Accountability Office, states with high immigration rates have seen a rapid increase in Emergency Medicaid spending.
Annette Dubard, research associate at the universityâ€™s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and lead author of the study, said, â€œThereâ€™s a misconception that a lot of the Medicaid budget is going to recent immigrants. However, weâ€™re spending money at the wrong end of careâ€¦. We can make better use of these health care dollars by increasing access to preventive care, which would alleviate demand for costly emergency care and improve the health of this population.â€