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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Medicaid roll must have some limits

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Vermont is one of those solidly-Democratic states where government is expected to provide for every need imaginable.

Because of their liberal, blue-state leaning, Vermont has expanded their Medicaid rolls to include one in every four residents. Many of those Medicaid recipients are far from low-income. But Vermont wanted to prove that government could provide health care coverage for all citizens regardless of the cost.

Well, now the grand experiment has failed miserably. Vermont is swimming in red ink from a Medicaid program that has expanded in cost by 20 percent annually. The feds pay 60 percent of the cost and the state picks up the remainder.

So Vermont has asked and received permission from the federal government to accept a cap on federal spending in return for handling the program themselves. The state will receive a flat fee for each Medicaid recipient then manage the care for those individuals. It will force the state to take a closer look at who is receiving the benefits and what benefits are provided. The end result will be a tightening of the Medicaid program and a closer inspection of just who is receiving free medical coverage.

Other states including Missouri have also recognized the outrageous explosion in Medicaid benefits. Far too many people are receiving far too many services because taxpayers are expected to pay the bill. There is no incentive to watch costs by either the recipient or the provider. As a result, our taxes for free medical services are taking precious resources away from education and other essential state services.

If Vermont is forced to make such a drastic move to control Medicaid spending, you would think other states would pay attention. I believe they will. The time has come when we must control Medicaid spending and that includes a closer examination of who is receiving what services and from whom. Somewhere in that formula someone is wasting money.

We will all watch Vermont and see if their experiment succeeds. No state can or should continue a program that expands in cost by 20 percent each year. At some point soon, the cost of Medicaid will literally bankrupt states. With controls, that problem can be averted.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen