The other day, in my post Without a Doctor, I claimed that the Medicare system here in Florida had been raped by the gubernatorial administrations of Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist; thus decimating their effectiveness as originally envisioned.
Medicaid in Florida is trashed because Republicans have ruined it?
The short answer: YES! ABSOLUTELY!
In 1965, President Johnson signed the law establishing Medicare and Medicaid. The original purpose of the Medicaid program was:
The Medicaid program, authorized under Title XIX of the Social Security Act, was enacted to provide health care services to low-income children deprived of parental support, their caretaker relatives, the elderly, the blind, and individuals with disabilities.
Gov. Bob Martinez (whom I worked under while with the Florida Board of Nursing) cut, sliced, and pared Medicaid at an alarming rate, especially with regards to our elderly.
But it wasn’t until the reign of Jeb Bush (for whom I billed Medicaid and Medicare at a home health agency) that Medicaid in this state went under the greatest change.
One of Jeb’s first actions upon taking office was to kill his predecessor’s, Lawton Chiles (the only Florida governor in recent history to actually care about health care for children, the disabled and the poor) health care initiative for individuals and small businesses, the Florida Health Care Purchasing Alliance.
But that wasn’t Jeb’s first foray into the rape of Medicaid. In 2003:
Governor Bush is proposing to drop health care and long-term care coverage for about 26,000 seniors and people with disabilities, although they would retain prescription drug coverage. The governor also is proposing steep increases in co-payments for prescription drugs, which likely would make it harder for some poor patients to afford their medications. The state already implemented modest cuts in the Medicaid eligibility of elderly and disabled people last year.
In 2005, Jeb had the bright idea (not!) to be among the first to follow his brother George’s edict to make state Medicaid coverage over modeling it like (get this!) a health insurance company, complete with limits on coverage:
Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, both Republicans, have proposed radical changes intended to inject market forces and competition into Medicaid. Under their proposals, the state would give Medicaid recipients a fixed amount of money to buy health care or private insurance.
Under Governor Bush’s proposal, Florida would contribute a fixed amount toward coverage for each Medicaid beneficiary. Patients could use the money to “opt out of Medicaid altogether and purchase health care insurance in the private market,” Mr. Bush said.
(Ironically, today Jeb is on the board of Tenet Healthcare, the same company required to repay the government over 900 million dollars in Medicare and Medicaid overpayments and is plagued by scandal after scandal.)
Even today, Jeb Bush’s failed Medicaid managed care decisions are affecting the State negatively:
”We’ve done the experiment. It has failed,” said Durell Peaden, the Senate’s health care budget chief. “The reports are unsettling. People couldn’t get to specialists, couldn’t get adequate care. And they couldn’t do it cheaply.”
The son of Gov. Lawton Chiles said today Gov. Charlie Crist has “betrayed” needy children and old people by raiding a tobacco-funded trust fund for $700 million needed to balance Florida’s budget.