November 27, 2005


Medicaid Cutbacks Divide Democrats (Jonathan Weisman, November 28, 2005, Washington Post)

Controversial House legislation designed to gain control of Medicaid growth has split Democrats, with lawmakers in Washington united in their opposition while Democratic governors are quietly supporting the provisions and questioning the party's reflexive denunciations. [...]

"As the number of people without health insurance has increased for four years in a row, Republicans are charging ahead with $45 billion in cuts to Medicaid -- the health insurance program that provides medical care to America's poorest children and many of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) thundered Nov. 18, just before the pre-dawn passage of the bill. "Republicans give new meaning to the words 'suffer little children.' "

What she did not say is that those changes were proposed over the summer by a bipartisan task force of governors, led by Virginia's Mark R. Warner, whose popularity in a Republican state has made him a rising star in the Democratic Party.

In fact, the most controversial provisions in the House bill were adapted almost word for word from a document drafted by Govs. Warner, Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa), Haley Barbour (R-Miss.), Janet Napolitano (D-Ariz.), Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.), Jennifer M. Granholm (D-Mich.), Dirk Kempthorne (R-Idaho), Jim Doyle (D-Wis.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Edward G. Rendell (D-Pa.), said Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association.

"The House has worked very closely with us," Scheppach said. "From our standpoint, Republicans and Democrats saw this very similarly at the state level."

The split has underscored the differing interests of Democrats in Washington -- out of power and struggling to capitalize on the declining popularity of their adversaries -- and Democratic governors, who take a more pragmatic approach. For governors, the soaring costs of Medicaid threaten to swamp state financing. Already, tens of thousands of people have been thrown off the Medicaid rolls in states such as Tennessee and Missouri, and governors have warned that those cuts will grow deeper if they do not have the flexibility to trim benefits more rationally.

So where Washington Democrats hope to highlight the partisan divide, their gubernatorial counterparts outside the Beltway have emphasized pragmatism and moderation, not only in the way they have governed but in their political campaigns.

Having become the reactionary party, at least inside the Beltway, national Democrats have nothing to offer those whose jobs involve acting themselves. Inside the statehouses no one is still following the Second Way.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 27, 2005 10:45 PM

Ahhh, the WP - no wonder why TennCare wasn't mentioned by name.

Posted by: Sandy P at November 27, 2005 11:17 PM

Ms. "antiquated and out of date" Pelosi also quotes the Bible using archaic English. We don't use the word "suffer" today as it was used in 1611. Contemporary English uses the word "permit" in its place. Hay Nancy...please refrain from using scripture to score political points; and, please, if you feel compelled to do so, give some thought to what verses you choose and don't take them out of context!

Posted by: Dave W. at November 28, 2005 3:46 AM

Millions of Americans CHOOSE not to carry health insurance, and nearly half of the rest lacking coverage are without for less than one year:

What Health Insurance Crisis? - By David Gratzer

Who and where are the 45 million Americans that the Census Bureau found without health insurance? With little fanfare [in 2003], the BlueCross BlueShield Assn. released a report based in part on analyzing the Census Bureau data. Its findings may surprise some. A full 16% of the uninsured, the study found, have incomes above $75,000 a year and could obviously afford insurance if they chose to buy it. Roughly a third of those lacking insurance earn $50,000 a year or more. You may think that a poor single mom with three children living in South-Central Los Angeles is among the uninsured, but in fact, she is eligible for Medicaid, as are her children. The BlueCross BlueShield study notes that 1 in 3 of the uninsured are eligible for but not enrolled in a government-sponsored health program. Because Medicaid and children's health programs allow patients to be signed up literally in the ER, these individuals could be covered; they just choose not to do the paperwork. [Emph. add.] And of the remaining uninsured, 6 million lack insurance for only a few months. The bottom line: About 8.2 million Americans, not 45 million, are chronically uninsured...
Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 28, 2005 6:29 AM

Dave: Look closely at how Pelosi used, mangled, actually, the bibical quote. "Suffer" in the KJV meant "permit." Pelosi either intended an ironic pun based on the idea that Republican cuts are afflicting children or she is so dull as to have failed to grasp the meaning of the quotation. Bets?

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 30, 2005 7:20 PM