Ad­dress ris­ing Med­i­caid costs by tack­ling the un­der­ly­ing prob­lems

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT -

Re­gard­ing the ar­ti­cle “GOP law­mak­ers eye cuts in ‘op­tional’ Med­i­caid ben­e­fits” (Mod­ern­Health­, Jan. 13), the trou­ble with block grants, re­duc­ing ben­e­fits or eli­gi­bil­ity, or even re­duc­ing pre­scrip­tion drug prices is that they do noth­ing to solve the un­der­ly­ing prob­lems. Any economist will likely tell you that th­ese moves are akin to a price freeze or wage freeze, which might tem­po­rar­ily have an im­pact but do noth­ing to re­solve the is­sues.

Ad­dress­ing the chal­lenge of ris­ing Med­i­caid costs must be through cre­at­ing so­lu­tions to poor health, waste, in­ef­fi­ciency and in­ef­fec­tive­ness. Pass­ing the buck to con­sumers, states, or just sweep­ing prob­lems un­der the pol­icy rug (a Washington fa­vorite) will not make any­one’s life bet­ter. Law­mak­ers must think more care­fully and in­tently about what they want to ac­com­plish. If it is sim­ply save the fed­eral bud­get money and ev­ery­thing else be damned, then own up to it. David Ed­wards Hood River, Ore.

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