George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

Con⁠t⁠ex⁠t⁠ Flor⁠i⁠da — Sal Nuzzo: We who oppose federal soc⁠i⁠al⁠i⁠zed med⁠i⁠c⁠i⁠ne salu⁠t⁠e you!

By: Sal Nuzzo / 2015

Context Florida  
“Sal Nuzzo: We who oppose federal socialized medicine salute you!”
March 10, 2015
By Sal NuzzoI’ve often heard the saying that “those who refuse to study history are destined to repeat it.” Well, what about those who refuse to examine the present?Recently, the director of the Children and Adults Health Programs in the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) at CMS revealed what those of us in the world of the rational and sane already know – that the federal government can’t be relied upon.Director Eliot Fishman informed those attending a health care conference in Orlando that funding for Florida’s “Low Income Pool” program – amounting to roughly $1.3 billion – will not be extended. Low Income Pool (LIP) funds are reimbursement payments to hospitals for treatments delivered to poor and uninsured patients.If the federal government can’t be relied upon to extend a program that assists poor and uninsured Floridians for $1.3 billion, how then can anyone conclude that we should trust that the federal government will “cover” the costs of an expansion of Medicaid? Medicaid, a program that delivers substandard care with substandard outcomes, will eventually consume enough of Florida’s budget to cripple many other critical priorities.To those in decision-making capacities in Tallahassee, consider this a lesson in what relying on federal government promises can ultimately lead to. Think about what the future will hold when it is no longer $1.3 billion in “federal” money being withheld, but $10 billion, or $50 billion, or more.Florida’s leaders are uniquely situated in a state that has shown that free enterprise, innovation and sound economic policy can lead to prosperity, job growth and dynamic success.They are also about to be courted by all manner of special interests, which will pepper them with every conceivable reason to “take the federal money.” They’ll be told it’s free money – as if we are not $18 trillion in debt, or that there’s a grand bargain at stake – as if that “bargain” will not cost us dearly down the road. They’ll be told that there really is no other choice.Policymakers should reject these red herrings and remember this $1.3 billion lesson in reliance on a federal government.As elected officials, constituents rely on decision-makers to understand and weigh the short- and long-term implications of the issues at hand. Do we need to examine reforms to Florida’s Medicaid program? Absolutely. Those of us who believe in free market solutions consistently point out that care in socialized medicine (the definition of Medicaid) is routinely insufficient. We should examine why that is and work together to implement sound reforms to improve access to care for those in need, as opposed to jamming them into a socialized program that results in far inferior care and worse health outcomes.In one of my all-time favorite movies, “Gladiator,” Russell Crowe’s lead character implores the soldiers in his charge “Stay with me, hold the line.” Hopefully, this lesson in unreliability encourages the same mantra.Sal Nuzzo is vice president of policy at The James Madison Institute.Article: