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Feds use Medicaid data to estimate PPACA spending

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Officials at the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) are using Medicaid program data to come up with early estimates of the effects of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) coverage access programs on 2014 health spending.

The BEA – an arm at the U.S. Department of Commerce – included the estimates in preliminary first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) figures released today.

The estimates are based on Medicaid reimbursement and enrollment data, officials said.

The BEA said household purchases rose at a 3 percent rate from January through March.

The agency believes spending on services may have surged as much as 4.4 percent. 

But one-quarter of that estimate increase – or 1.1 percentage points of the increase – came from the BEA health spending growth estimate.

If the BEA is right about how much PPACA programs increased health care spending this quarter, health care spending may have grown at the fastest rate since 1947.

The BEA will use the Medicaid-based PPACA effect estimates until quarterly services spending information is available.

Once the final GDP figures are available, the PPACA “qualified health plan” (QHP) and Medicaid expansion programs could affect second-quarter spending more than first-quarter spending, because consumers who sign up for QHP coverage after Feb. 15 won’t show up in QHP-related spending data until the second quarter, according to Ben Mandel, chief of the federal branch of the government division at the BEA.

Jeanna Smialek contributed to this report.

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