CHARLESTON - Expanding a Medicaid program that allows a person to remain at home instead of receiving care at a nursing home would cost the state more than $14 million a year if it were to cover everyone currently on a waiting list, according to a draft report released Wednesday.
West Virginia University economics professor John Deskins presented the report to lawmakers during an interim legislative meeting. There are currently more than 2,000 people on a waiting list for the Medicaid Aged and Disabled Waiver program, according to Deskins.
The report says that general quality of life may be better for those who are able to stay at home and that hospitalization rates significantly decline after disabled older adults were provided community-based long-term care.
In 2012, the state had about 8,000 people enrolled in the program and the overall cost of it was $163 million, and the state paid for $47 million of that.
Acknowledging that the state faces tough budget challenges, Deskins' report detailed what the cost of phasing in all the recipients would be over the course of five years. In the first year, expanding the program to 453 new recipients would cost the state $2.6 million. By the fifth year, the annual state cost would be $14.7 million to cover 2,263 new recipients. The federal government's share would grow from $6.4 million in the first year to $36.1 million in the fifth year.
While Deskins' report provided cost estimates for the expansion, it was primarily geared toward providing lawmakers with the economic impacts of doing so.
The report notes that the economic impact of the program in its current state has resulted in $5.5 million in new tax revenue, $285 million in direct and indirect business spending and created more than 3,600 jobs.
Expanding the program to cover those on the waiting list would result in $1.7 million in new tax revenue by its fifth year, offsetting the state portion of expenditures by about 12 percent. The report also says the expansion would employ another 1,140 people by its fifth year, with employee compensation totaling $37.6 million.
A final report of Deskins' findings will be presented to lawmakers in January.