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October 20, 2005

Those Were The Days

Hey, remember when the Republican party was all about cutting government spending and getting out of the way of the states, giving them the flexibility to attack problems? You can do it. Think back. (C'mon, try harder.)

Well, looks like Florida and the Feds just got a little 'old school':

The Bush administration approved a sweeping Medicaid plan for Florida on Wednesday that limits spending for many of the 2.2 million beneficiaries there and gives private health plans new freedom to limit benefits. ...

In his state of the state speech to the Florida Legislature in March, [Jeb] Bush called for transforming Medicaid, saying it was unsustainable in its current form.
"Over the last six years," he said, "Medicaid costs have increased an average of more than 13 percent annually. State revenues grew an average of 6 percent a year."

The plan, to be put into effect over five years, will significantly increase the use of managed care. Questions and answers prepared by federal officials say that a principal aim of the Florida program is "to bring predictability to Medicaid spending and to reduce Medicaid's rate of growth."

I dunno, maybe this isn’t all that ‘radical.’ If you read the details, it just sounds like they’re turning over to HMO’s some of the benefit decisions, allowing citizens to choose from different packages, essentially privatizing some of the decision-work previously done by the legislature.

But still, the Feds are allowing a state to try something different, to serve as a test-case incubator for a potentially good, money-saving idea. (Oh, my God! I just wrote ‘incubator!’ Man, does that bring back memories.)

Sure, Medicaid's boring stuff, right up there with Social Security reform. But with all the talk about how Republicans have become a stodgy, inflexible party of big-government lately, thought it’d be nice to point out something that says, hmm, maybe not.


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posted by Dr. Reo Symes at 12:03 PM

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