The Path to Prosperity Lowers Costs of Medicaid, Empowers States to Improve Services
Last week, the House of Representatives passed the House Budget Committee’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Budget, The Path to Prosperity. This is a serious plan that acknowledges the debt we face and provides real solutions to prevent looming debt from crippling our nation and saddling our kids and grandkids will more than $100 trillion in unpaid bills.. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I was proud to coauthor this budget and contribute provisions that would result in more than $120 billion in savings to taxpayers by reforming Medicaid to provide vastly better service for Americans who depend on it – all without cutting a single penny from current funding.
The Path to Prosperity recognizes that the primary drivers of our nearly $16 trillion debt are our social safety net programs – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. While some in Washington prefer to ignore the problem, Americans know something must be done to save these programs.
One particular area I’ve been focused on is reforming Medicaid. Under Medicaid’s current structure, states are required to meet one-size-fits-all mandates from the federal government. Washington determines who receives Medicaid, the benefits they are eligible for and how much money their government-approved doctors can make. After dictating the program’s requirements, the federal government then makes a contribution to the states and leaves them to pay the balance. Any state that attempts to modify their program or initiate reforms to balance their budgets must go through a lengthy federal approval process that can take years. This is patently unfair to states and to Medicaid recipients, resulting in a Medicaid program that is failing taxpayers, providers, and those that need health care services the most.
A perfect example of this is the State of Indiana’s Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), which is now in jeopardy due to federal Medicaid policy and pending rules created under ObamaCare. Instead of choking a successful program like HIP, Washington should encourage states to create more programs like it.
My new State Health Flexibility Act, which I introduced with Reps. Jim Jordan (OH-04), Tim Heulskamp (KS-01) and Paul Broun (GA-10), takes the opposite approach. Modeled on the successful welfare reforms of the 1990s, our plan would strengthen Medicaid by giving states more latitude in meeting the specific needs of Medicaid recipients rather than dictating top-down solutions from Washington bureaucrats.
Essentially, our bill combines Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) into a single block grant to be given to each state to administer, allowing states to operate Medicaid programs to best serve their own unique populations. H.R. 4160 would also cap Medicaid at current spending levels, which will force states to find innovative solutions to drive down costs and improve service. I know that this can be done; when I served as Indiana’s secretary of state from 2002 to 2010, I ran my office on the same budget used in 1987. It just requires discipline, innovation and a commitment to eliminating waste.
The Path to Prosperity includes several key ideas from our bill. In addition to block granting, the budget also includes our proposal to combine Medicaid and CHIP. Overall the House budget would save taxpayers over $800 billion in Medicaid spending, with provisions from our bill alone saving $120 billion.
For a generation, Republicans have come to Congress pledging to return power to the states. The Path to Prosperity and the State Health Flexibility Act represent a commitment to finally follow through on a generation of promises, and to stop pushing debt and a broken system on to the next generation.
Representative Todd Rokita is a Member of the House Budget Committee and represents Indiana’s 4th Congressional District.