The news: The funding and use of Medicare and Medicaid have been a divisive issue during the 2012 presidential debates.

Behind the news: According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, public spending on medical programs—such as Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program—increased 89 percent in Illinois since welfare reform in 1994, averaging $3,143 per person in 2010, the latest year for which the data are available. The medical programs’ expenses amounted to 43 percent of spending made on all federal benefit programs in the state.

Nationally, per-capita public spending on medical programs has increased at a slower rate than Illinois, growing by 75 percent between 1994 and 2010, from $1,842 to $3,239.

Public spending on medical programs has increased because of the rising cost of health care and an aging population in Illinois, said Anne Marie Murphy, who served as the Illinois Medicaid director for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services until 2006.

Medicare and Medicaid costs alone grew 133.8 percent and 100.2 percent, respectively, since 2000 according to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. And so have the number of Illinois residents who receive medical benefits from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Between fiscal years 2006 and 2011, it increased by 34 percent to about 2.7 million.

“This rise is generally due to a poor economy where many have lost jobs, lost income, employers have dropped health insurance coverage and so many more qualify for Illinois Medicaid,” said Murphy, who is now the executive director of Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force.