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BILL CRAWFORD: Pence chooses Medicaid solution over rhetoric

Bill Crawford

Bill Crawford

Most real TEA Partiers know of Mike Pence.

 
The uncompromising champion of lower taxes, smaller government, and earmark reform, Pence served six terms in Congress, including time as chairman of the hard-core conservative Republican Study Group. He was a member of the TEA Party Caucus, got a 95% grade from the Club for Growth during his last year in Congress, and became a darling of the infamous Koch brothers.
 
In January 2013 he became the 50th governor of Indiana. Within two months he aggressively cut corporate income taxes by over 20% and individual income taxes by 5%, eliminated burdensome regulations, cut millions out higher education spending, and balanced the state budget.
 
“We balanced our budget, created jobs, cut red tape by 55 percent, improved our schools and roads, and paid down state debt,” Pence said in his 2014 state of the state address.
 
And (drum roll please), he wants to take Obamacare Medicaid money.
 
Like Arkansas and a number of Republican led states, he won’t take it to increase regular Medicaid, but wants a waiver to use the money for a more market-driven system.
 
“There’s been a lot of talk about Medicaid,” said Pence. “The sad truth is that traditional Medicaid is not just broke, it is broken. Research shows that the program does not lead to better health outcomes and in some cases hurts the very people it is supposed to help.
 
“Traditional Medicaid is not a system we need to expand. It’s a system we need to change. The Healthy Indiana Plan is the right place to start. The Healthy Indiana Plan is consumer-driven healthcare that moves people from emergency rooms to primary care and encourages low-income Hoosiers to take more ownership of their own healthcare decisions.”
 
Pence’s cost-sharing plan will require participants to contribute from $3 to $25 per month (based on income and family size). In return they will obtain a comprehensive health care plan that also includes preventive care, prescription drugs, vision and dental care, and pregnancy coverage.
 
Pence’s plan will also reimburse doctors and hospitals at Medicare rates, which are higher than Medicaid rates, to encourage more to participate.
 
Pence calls his plan “the closest thing America has seen to a Medicaid block grant program that works and will serve as a model for the nation in future debates about health-care reform.”
 
Like Ronald Reagan, Pence believes government safety nets have a duty to incentivize people to work and build careers, not become permanently dependent on government.
 
Opting for action over political rhetoric, Indiana’s ultra-conservative governor designed a solution that encourages people to work and help pay for their benefits… not the opposite, as in Mississippi, where Medicaid encourages people not to work and not to marry in order to get benefits.
 
         
» Bill Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (crawfolk@gmail.com)

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