Senate President Mike Haridopolos has argued for months that the federal government should treat Medicaid like 1990s-era welfare reform: Send block grants to the states, and let them run the program. But the Merritt Island Republican shouldn’t hold his breath. In releasing a deficit-reduction proposal last week, the Obama administration flatly rejected the Medicaid block-grant idea, which also has been pushed by congressional Republicans, reports the News Service of Florida. “The President? framework rejects plans that would end Medicare as we know it or transform Medicaid into a dramatically underfunded block grant, putting at serious risk not only seniors but also the most vulnerable children and people with disabilities,” the White House said in briefing sheet for reporters. Haridopolos argues that the state could better manage Medicaid, which is jointly funded by the state and federal governments. But critics contend giving the state more flexibility with the money would lead to cuts in services. Democratic governors of 16 states and the Virgin Islands sent a letter to congressional leaders earlier this month opposing Medicaid block grants. The letter says such a move would shift costs and risks to the states and would “severely undercut our ability to provide health care to our residents and adequately pay providers.” But Michael Cannon, a Cato Institute official who has been described as a health-policy adviser to Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott, fired back at the governors today in an opinion piece in Kaiser Health News. Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Libertarian think tank, wrote that the Democratic governors “want to preserve the open-ended, perennial bailout that Medicaid has always offered.” “Under a block-grant system, Washington would give each state a fixed amount of money that would neither rise nor fall with the amount the state spends,” Cannon wrote. “Governors would be free to expand their programs, but they would have to come up with 100 percent of cost of those expansions.”
Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.