Despite lawmakers' efforts to cinch the belt on health care costs, state and federal spending on weight loss surgeries in Texas is bulging. The Texas Tribune's analysis of state and federal health care data found spending on bariatric surgeries covered by Medicare and Medicaid in Texas tripled between 2007 and 2010, from $1 million to $3 million, while the number of procedures performed nearly doubled. For more on the rise of taxpayer-funded weight-loss surgeries in Texas, check out Emily Ramshaw's report here.
You can click on the legends to add or remove a program from view in each of the graphs. Try it out by clicking off "Medicare" in both legends. Now it's easier to compare the difference in claims and costs for two methods of paying Medicaid providers: fee for service and managed care. The jump in Medicaid costs can be explained by supplemental payments the state paid to managed care plans, which get paid set premiums and faced unanticipated costs due to the state’s decision to more widely cover bariatric procedures. Those payments ended last year, and the state expects big savings.
McAllen takes the cake for billing Medicaid for more weight-loss procedures than any other city under the fee for service structure. The border region does have the highest rate of residents enrolled in Medicaid. But urban Dallas, which had the second-highest number of bariatric patients, is home to at least a million more people than McAllen, according to 2010 population data. Even if you add in the number of Medicaid patients in Dallas County managed care plans who had bariatric surgeries during the same time period — two — McAllen still billed for 62 more surgeries.
For more on the Texas providers who topped this list, check out our story.