That headline is a little different than you read in the news, isn’t it? Actually, it is a lot different because the headlines in the news continue to regurgitate the tired meme that conservatives only want to talk about cutting government expenditures without offering specifics on where to cut. That the opposite is true seems not to matter to most reporters, who choose to pass along alarmist rhetoric rather than take the time to learn the truth.
Let’s take just one example – Medicaid. As everyone seems to be aware of, Medicaid funding in Texas is a major financial burden and that burden is growing each and every day. Some of the early criticism of conservatives was warranted when Rep. Warren Chisum sought publicity in his bid for House speaker by declaring that we should opt-out of Medicaid without having a clue as to how we would do that. Fortunately, the folks over at the Texas Public Policy Foundationtook it upon themselves to figure out if this could be done, and if it could, could it be done in such a way that it both saves taxpayer money and continue to provide subsidized care at an acceptable level?
Yes, they determined, it can be done.
Their work is very detailed and analytical, as usual. In a three part series, first they outlined the crisis, including the massive increase in funding that Obamacare will add, in their report Final Notice: Medicaid Crisis A Forecast of Texas’ Medicaid Expenditures Growth. In their second report, The Big Squeeze, Analysis of Spending Cuts or Tax Increases Necessary to Maintain Current Medicaid, they detail that the current program is not sustainable. In the third and final report, Medicaid Reform: Constructive Alternatives to a Failed Program, they offer three specific alternatives that they think will solve the problem. From the final report:
This paper proposes dramatic reforms to the way medical care and services are provided to low-income individuals, under a new assistance program: TexHealth. TexHealth offers a starting point for the discussion of reforming Medicaid into a free market based program. TexHealth would change the dynamic of Medicaid from a defined benefit program to a defined contribution program, allowing individuals to make their own decisions in regards to their health insurance needs.
Providing direct subsidies for health insurance motivates low income populations to obtain the health insurance that fits their particular circumstances, and not what the state decides they need.
Imagine that! Conservatives giving po’ folks the same choices that rich folks have!
Where are the solutions from the liberals? Solutions that do not simply raise taxes to continue the current, unsustainable system?
Crickets can be heard chirping for miles and miles.
Well, except for Houston area Rep. Garnet Coleman. Rep. Coleman was recently in Austin for a Sunday morning discussion on the growing budget reality of state Medicaid and other health services assistance, especially to the young, the old and the infirm. Greg Holloway of the Austin Tea Party Patriots (he is also one of the advisors to Sen. Patrick’s Tea Party Caucus) advocated for seeking private and non-profit solutions to these services, since government’s impact on eliminating the underlying causes of the lack of self-sufficiency is questionable at best. Rep. Garnet Coleman argued that federal law requires the state to provide such funding and, whether through state or federal programs, the government should continue to so.
After the discussion at KXAN ended, Mr. Holloway and Rep. Coleman continued an informal discussion off air. Mr. Holloway asked him, “What will happen if government funding of such health services to the old, the young and the infirm eventually crumbles under the weight of budgetary realities in the coming years? Shouldn’t we plan around the problem before it happens?”
Rep. Coleman’s answer: “I’ll let it crumble.”
Most likely, Rep. Coleman was frustrated by the line of questioning and gave a flippant answer. If he was serious, he would obviously be implying his agreement with some of the Cloward-Piven theories of years past. Theories that are becoming more popular now that Glenn Beck has read about them.
Rather than attack Rep. Coleman for his apparent flub of an answer, I asked Mr. Holloway how Rep. Coleman might have answered it if he had taken the time to ponder the question. Mr. Holloway came up with this answer: he could have raised the question of whether the private and non-profit sector was ready to pick up care for those who had no means to care for themselves.
So I asked Mr. Holloway to answer his own question – his answer is going to surprise those of you that think Tea Party leaders are all loud mouth, rhetorical, selfish, racists. Mr. Holloway’s answer:That’s a good question. While no reasonable person advocates turning away those who cannot help themselves, it would not be as simple as flipping a switch to go from a mindset of the government as nanny-state to one in which the private and non-profit sector (or the citizens of the state, for that matter) would be immediately and universally ready to bear the full load of state health services.
You didn’t see that coming did you? Well, unless you have actually been to a Tea Party meeting, that is. If you are one that relies solely on the descriptions of Teapers portrayed in the press and on left leaning blogs, you surely must be surprised to learn that we do not want to “flip a switch” and kick people to the curb.
But like the title says, conservatives don’t just talk, they offer solutions. So, once again, I asked Mr. Holloway what his solution would be and this is his reply:
The citizens of Texas need to realize that (i) the costs of providing Medicaid and similar benefit programs across the state continue to rise far faster than the rate of inflation or population growth, (ii) these government programs, although often needed in the short term to serve indigent seniors, children and the disabled, have largely proved ineffective in allowing those served to rise out of the cycle of poverty and (iii) if unchecked, the combination of these rising services costs and prevailing budget constraints will result either in other budget items (such as public education) being “crowded out” or the services themselves no longer being provided. Either way, someone loses. The solution is to begin to explore private and non-profit sector alternatives to the current government services that could reduce costs and encourage less of a sense of entitlement and more of a sense of ownership and dignity for the service recipients (and their providers).
And lo and behold, the Texas Public Policy Foundation did exactly that with their reports. How about that?
Those crickets from the left just keep on chirping.