The nation's governors, who met for a four-day meeting in Biloxi, Miss., say they are worried that federal health care legislation could push new Medicaid expenses on to the states.
Nationally, about 20 percent of the population is enrolled in Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor. The program costs $320 billion, a large share of which is paid by the states.
Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican who heads the National Governors Association, says at 24 percent, his state has one of the highest rates of Medicaid enrollment in the nation.
Douglas tells Robert Siegel that in Vermont, Medicaid costs $1.2 billion, a burden that is shared by the state and federal governments.
"Nationally, Medicaid is over 20 percent of a state budget, and because we're generous and cover a higher percentage in Vermont, it's a little higher than that, and it's growing," he says. "And that's the real problem."
Douglas estimates that by the end of the next decade, 25 percent across the nation will be enrolled in the program, and, unless costs are controlled, that figure could approach 30 percent.
"That really clouds out all the other responsibilities of state government," he says.