Niagara Gazette — So, how do we change Medicaid and New York State for the better? There is a very simple means to do so, one that would be a win-win for both sides of the aisle (those who demand cost cutting and those fearful of hurting Medicaid recipients): Dissolve New York’s Medicaid system and redirect Medicaid funding to the purchase of private, not public, medical insurance.
Call it a Medicaid voucher system if you will.
The savings would be astronomical. The state’s Medicaid budget is approximately $54 billion. If HMO coverage were purchased, the state would save $39 billion per year and it would totally eliminate the burden that is placed on the counties; gone would be the sales and property taxes specifically set aside for Medicaid.
Residents and businesses would have $39 billion of their own money made available to them every year, allowing them to spend and save and do as they wish with it, pumping it into moreproductive sectors of the economy which in turn would increase personal wealth and employ more people (taking them off the Medicaid rolls in the process), making New York a place that’s attractive to live and work.
To make such an idea come to fruition you’d need a buy-in from Albany – our elected officials would have to be willing to totally remodel state government and eliminate layers of bureaucracy. That would be a politically-arduous task.
Another obstacle would be the federal government. Medicaid laws clearly define minimum expectations and requirements. All of those are met by HMO, although the feds might not see it that way. But, any state attorney-general worth his salt can make a very compelling claim to Washington that a privately-managed system is satisfactory.
A Medicaid voucher plan shows that the ideals of economic development and smaller government can coexist with those of public benevolence and big government: You actually can cut costs in entitlement programs without adversely affecting those deemed to be in need.Gasport resident Bob Confer also writes for the New American magazine at TheNewAmerican.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer