“Medicaid alone, by being sent back to the states, and growing the funding by inflation — CPI — plus 1 percent a year, will save a $100 billion,” Romney usually says on the campaign trail. But during a rare yesterday, the former Massachusetts governor took his claim one step further, telling Fox News’ Chris Wallace that reducing the federal government’s payments to the safety-net health care program would not undermine beneficiaries because states would use the reduced funds more efficiently:
ROMNEY: I take the Medicaid dollars, send them back to the states, without the mandates as to how they have to treat –“Watch it:
WALLACE: “But you’re also cutting the budget by $700 billion dollars.”
ROMNEY: “Well what I’d do is I’d take the money, send it back to the states, and say we’re going to grow that funding at inflation, the CPI, plus one percent. By doing that, you save an enormous amount of money. I happen to believe that states can do a better job caring for their own poor, rooting out the fraud and waste and abuse that exists within –“
WALLACE: “But you don’t think if you cut $700 billion dollars in aid to the states that some people are going to get hurt?
ROMNEY: “In the same way that by cutting welfare spending dramatically, I don’t think we hurt the poor. In the same way I think cutting Medicaid spending by having it go to the states run more efficiently with less fraud, I don’t think will hurt the people that depend on that program for their healthcare.”
Some Republican governors have spoken out against the proposal and condemned additional federal cuts in general. As Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) indicated in November, states can swallow small cuts, but larger reductions would result in a “cost-shift to the states.” “We know there is going to be a reduction in the Medicaid program. If it’s a small reduction, states are prepared to share in that, we will do our part,” he said. “If it is a dramatic reduction, then it is significantly going to have an adverse impact on state budgets. And when you look at state budgets, there are three big items: Medicaid, the funding we do for the education of our children in K-12 and higher education. So if you dramatically cut Medicaid, you’re going to force us to make dramatic education cuts for our children, that’s not where we ant to go,” Heineman warned.