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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Reign of error

Mitt Romney appears ready to take flip-flopping to unprecedented -- and costly -- levels to the state that thrust him into political prominence.

The Boston Globe reports the former Bay State governor has a secret plan to overhaul Medicaid funding. It would gut the signature law he thought would catapult him into the White House -- at least until the GOP's Obama Derangement Syndrome determined that maintaining our crippled health care and insurance system was the best approach to put politics ahead of people.

Secret because "the specifics of Romney’s plan are not public." But it appears Romney is signing on to the Paul Ryan budget plan to create Medicaid block grants -- and then slash funding for both Medicare and Medicaid.

Federal Medicaid funding has been a major part of making the Massachusetts health care access law work, But the Ryan plan would change the formula from one that reacts to recessions and increased enrollment to one based on a set dollar amount that would increase each year with inflation and US population growth.

It would also amount to a one-third cut in funding by 2022, simply by falling behind inflation and demand.

The Romney camp is at its usual vague best, telling the Globe:
“There are a number of details that would need to be addressed regarding the exact design of the block grant."
John McDonough, a Harvard School of Public Health professor who played a major role in creating the law as an aide to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, is far less restrained:
"It would have been impossible for Massachusetts to do what it did without increased federal Medicaid support.’
Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, who leads Health Care for All in Massachusetts, an organization McDonough helped found, is even more direct:
“What he’s proposing is in direct opposition to what he did as governor.’’ 
She notes block grants give states more flexibility in spending federal money, but restrict funding increases.

The silver lining in this looming nightmare, one that surfaces as the Massachusetts Legislature is about to take on health care cost control measures, is that Romney's track record on following a straight line on pronouncements and policies is well known.

So "states rights" Republicans would cripple one state's imaginative and so-far successful effort to increase health care access in order to defeat Obama, maintaining a status quo that benefits no one except insurance companies.

Unless Myth changes his mind yet again.

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