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Block party?

Not exactly.  In today's Ithaca Journal:

GOP Medicaid plan would slash N.Y. funding

WASHINGTON — A House Republican plan to convert Medicaid into a federal block grant program and repeal last year's health care reform law would remove 2.17 million New Yorkers from Medicaid's rolls by 2021, according to a new report.

New York's enrollment is around 4.8 million now and is expected to grow to 5.64 million by 2021...

What is a block grant and how would converting Medicaid into such a program change things? A block grant is a federal lump-sum payment to states, and

Because Medicaid is an entitlement program, everyone who is eligible is guaranteed a spot. The federal government, which pays for nearly 60 percent of the cost, has an open-ended commitment to help states cover costs; in return, it requires them to cover certain groups of people and to provide specific benefits. For example, children, pregnant women who meet specific income criteria and parents with dependent children must be covered.

A block grant would effectively end this open-ended approach and provide states with annual lump sums. States would be freer to run the program as they wanted. But states would also be responsible for covering costs beyond the federal allotment.

We've written numerous posts regarding Medicaid here. And you're certainly capable of reading through the rest of today's Journal story (which had one statistic that actually took my breath away: "In New York, Medicaid covers half of live births...").  And we can argue about the details ad nauseam, but in the end does it really matter? In an earlier post on Medicaid, we quoted E.J. McMahon: "This is really a measure of dependency on government." And dependency on government can be viewed as both resulting from and leading to moral hazard. And moral hazard—the disconnect between consumers of services and those who pay for them—produces an unsustainable cost spiral.

As with a lot of things, I think we're wasting time having the wrong argument.

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