Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Newt on Medicaid reform

Washington Post this morning. [Registration site]

The fundamental problem with the Medicaid system is that its beneficiaries are distinct and separate groups of individuals with radically different needs and characteristics: people with disabilities, the poor and the elderly poor. A 21st Century Responsible Citizen Medicaid Act would divide Medicaid into three distinct areas, each administered separately with its own rules and structures.

...The program should provide incentives to people with disabilities to be productive, rather than threatening them with a loss in benefits if they get a job.

...address the needs of the relatively healthy poor, who have much different needs than people with disabilities or the elderly.Poor individuals should be offered vouchers for health savings accounts that sensitize them to the benefits of prevention, wellness and early detection.

...create a program to serve the elderly that reintegrates the family back into their care. The current system, for example, prevents a daughter whose mother is in an assisted-living facility from contributing financially to her mother's care without losing all Medicaid coverage. This either-or mentality is anti-family and leaves the recipient with a lower quality of life.

...Because Medicaid is equally a federal and state challenge, the first step is for the governors, Congress and the administration to join in establishing a working group that would be charged with fundamentally rethinking Medicaid and developing the enabling legislation.

The average person cannot define the difference between Medicaid and Medicare.

Good luck, Mr. Gingrich. Your main problem in politics was, and is, that you are thinking light years ahead of the popular common denominator. If conservatives really grasped what you are saying, they would call you a liberal, stone you in public and hang you out to dry.

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