Bloggers react to Tuesday’s vote in the House of Representatives to provide additional funding to states, including extra Medicaid dollars. Republican leaders decried the bill because of its cost. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called lawmakers back from their usual August recess to vote on the bill, which President Barack Obama quickly signed.
Time’s Kate Pickert notes that a number of Republican governors had pleaded for the aid but have changed their position and looks back at a letter sent to Congress by 47 governors in February pleading for the funding: “There’s not a better illustration of the priority divide between Republicans in Washington DC and those in the states than the Medicaid funding passed by the House today. … Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican who signed the Feb letter, has lately been railing against the extra Medicaid funding. A spokesman for him says that the state has recovered better than others since then and no longer needs the money. That might make sense logically and especially politically, but will Indiana reject the $434 million coming its way thanks to Congress on the grounds that it’s not needed? Nah.”
The Heritage Foundation’s Brian Blase notes: “The bailout is not geared toward high poverty states; it is geared toward states in the most fiscal trouble, largely because of Medicaid profligacy. So New York will receive two-and-a-half times more money from the Medicaid bailout than will Texas. Both bailout extensions will reward states that mismanaged their Medicaid programs. The House should not allow the American taxpayer to be the payer-of-last-resort for mismanaged state programs.”
But The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein thinks it wasn’t enough money for cash-strapped states: “The end product has, after three months of negotiations and compromises, less than half the $50 billion-plus the House originally wanted. Moderate Senate Republicans forced the legislation to be deficit neutral, so the bill shifts money around rather than injecting new money into an economy that needs it. One of the offsets was a $12 billion cut to the food stamp program. And though the bill will help, it will not do enough. … We don’t want states to manage the crisis by worsening it, but that’s exactly what further cuts and tax hikes will do. And though this bill will help, further cuts and tax hikes will be needed.”
In other state news, Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky says 19 states are toiling away on implementation of the new health overhaul: “The success of health care reform will be determined by the states that implement it, and so far [state] officials have done an impressive job of ignoring the repeal calls of state politicians and laying the groundwork for effective implementation. According to the National Governor’s Association (NGA), 19 states have “created some body to work on implementation” — even as 5 of those states (Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Minnesota, Michigan) are suing the federal government over the constitutionality of reform. (Read the progress they’ve made here).”
Elsewhere, three bloggers are still talking about the new health law and Medicare, especially a controversial report on Medicare’s future issued last week by the administration.
On The Health Care Blog, John Goodman says, “I have been watching the release of the Medicare Trustees reports for many years and I have never seen anything as strange as what happened last week. … So now you know why it took until August to release a report that normally appears in April. No, it wasn’t because health reform is so complicated that it took many months to figure out how it would affect Medicare. It was because an internally divided Obama administration feared the potential embarrassment of being repudiated by its own accountants!”
The New Atlantis’ James Capretta looks at dissent to the Trustee report. Richard Foster, head actuary of the federal Medicare agency, filed an alternate report: “As Foster notes, the Medicare cuts upon which the president’s claims of additional Medicare solvency rest are so absurdly unrealistic that they can hardly be taken seriously at all. Despite all of the talk of painless ‘delivery-system reform’ in Medicare, the big cuts come, as usual, from arbitrary and deep across-the-board payment-rate reductions for hospitals and other institutional providers of care.”
But The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn thinks some Republicans are being disingenuous when discussing Medicare’s future and the health overhaul: “[H]ealth care reform does reduce overall spending on Medicare. That includes reduced payments to providers, who could react by seeing fewer Medicare patients, and to private Medicare Advantage plans, which might offer fewer benefits. But for as long as I can remember, Republicans have also called for spending less on Medicare. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did it in the 1990s.”