The usually soft-spoken Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) took a shot at Republican governors this afternoon, describing the GOP’s claim that states should have greater flexibility to manage their Medicaid programs as “a canard.” Patrick made the comments while testifying before the Senate Finance committee:
PATRICK: I think that the question of flexibility strikes me sometimes, frankly, when I hear some of my colleagues talk about it, as bit of a canard because there is a tremendous amount of flexibility we have been offered and we have utilized under the Obama administration and the Bush administration in our own health care reform.
Almost all Republican governors have sought greater flexibility from the federal government, arguing that local officials are best positioned to develop solutions to escalating health care costs. Republican governors have also endorsed House GOP’s block grant proposal. Under that plan, states would receive a pre-determined block grants that would not keep up with health are costs, and would have greater flexibility to make drastic benefit cuts to the program.
Patrick is suggesting that the federal government already allows states to make substantial changes that help save state dollars without sacrificing benefits. States can implement delivery system reforms, set payment strategies without applying for a federal waiver, eliminate optional services, add or increase cost sharing for some services and do a better job of managing and coordinating chronic care. In fact, under the Affordable Care Act, states can even apply for federal funds to better coordinate services for people with chronic conditions and receive federal support to design new models for serving the very expensive dual eligible population.