Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Yet Another Unsustainable Program

A Tuesday afternoon quick quiz – what government program are all these quotes talking about?

  • “The money, it seems, is never enough.”
  • “The program’s costs quickly outpaced expectations,” forcing massive new government spending in the middle of a fiscal year.
  • “It cannot continue to grow at this rate,” accounting for a whopping 37% of the budget, up from 21% in 2000 – a near-doubling in just ten short years.
  • It’s “been a so-called budget buster for 25 years.”
  • “If we continue on the same track, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

If you said the health care law, you’d only be half right.  In reality, all the damning quotes above come from a single Boston Globe story about Massachusetts’ troubled Medicaid program, which has needed nearly $600 million in additional cash infusions just since the Commonwealth’s fiscal year started on July 1.  And Massachusetts isn’t alone; the Wall Street Journal reported this morning that New York’s new Governor, Andrew Cuomo, is considering more than $2 billion in reductions to that state’s troubled Medicaid program.

Granted, New York’s Medicaid program has been plagued with allegations of fraud for years, such that cracking down on improper and illegal spending could very well achieve Gov. Cuomo’s savings target.  But at a time when state budgets are already stressed to the breaking point, why is the federal government forcing states to expand their strapped Medicaid programs?  Does the federal government want all states to face the kind of fiscal problems that New York and Massachusetts – two states that expanded their Medicaid programs years ago – are now experiencing?  How will requiring more states to use the same “recipe for disaster” that Massachusetts has cooked up for itself do anything but give struggling taxpayers another bitter pill to swallow?