How many NYT readers know how large $500 million is as a share of California's budget? How about $370 million a share of Texas' budget.
My guess is that almost no one outside of the people who live in these states (and probably not even many of them) has any clue as to how large these sums are to the state governments. This means that when the NYT tells readers that the health care reform bill will cost the state of California $500 million a year in higher Medicaid costs and Texas $370 million a year, it is giving readers no information whatsoever.
The article could have instead told readers that the Medicaid expenses will add approximately 0.5 percent to the budgets of both California and Texas. This would have allowed readers to better assess the impact of the bill on state budgets.