OK, I blew it a couple of days ago. I credulously quoted a brief WBUR report that said in passing that the MA budget was 50% health care. Well, it's not that much. I called in help from Nancy Wagman at the Mass. Budget and Policy Center, and she broke it down into a spreadsheet for us.
Anyway, the correct answer is something like 35% if you include federal matching funds for Medicaid/MassHealth/new health reform law. If you only include “state source” funds, it's about 23%. (BTW, in its big budget discussion, MassINC puts the number at 30%. I don't know how they arrived at that …) Still a vast, vast sum; and considering health care inflation, it really is the biggest deal in the state budget.
That's why Pres. Murray's health care cost control plan is such a big deal. Does it go far enough? It seems to have irritated some of the right people. It may require a bigger cultural change both from physicians and patients to really tame the beast; and we have to remember that one person's unnecessary overspending is another person's golden-goose revenue stream.