Back in August in her rush to pass the budget and get the legislature out of town, it looks like Governor Perdue slipped up and pulled a number out of thin air. What the Governor did to balance the budget (at least on paper) was tell legislators she was going to cut the Department of Health and Human Services budget $400 million.
Only she missed one fact: DHHS runs entitlement programs: Like Medicaid. And by law if someone’s poor and sick and needs help the state can’t just cut their care. The only way to cut Medicaid is to change the law to take away the entitlement.
But the Governor (and legislators) didn’t do that.
Which leaves Medicaid Director Craigon Gray wrestling with the knotty problem and it looks like he’s come up with sneaky solution.
Director Gray has decided thousands of Medicaid patients – who his department’s been saying for years are entitled to care – are not actually eligible.
Now, in the real world, discovering ten or twenty thousand Medicaid patients don’t need care would be a welcome savings – except this revelation isn’t the result of welfare reform. Instead it’s the result of the Governor’s $400 million mistake and the poor folks on Medicaid just happened to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time – and eligible or not they’re about to get cut.
Worse, what’s going to happen when Gray executes his plan is going to be a huge train wreck – at taxpayers’ expense.
To put a fig leaf on his cuts Director Gray’s paying $24 million – to a former client of Secretary Cansler’s – to review every patient in one program, Medicaid Home Care. What’s odd is that even before the first patient’s been examined Director Gray’s already announced the results: The study will find 40% of the patients are ineligible. And he’ll cut, he says, exactly $138 million.
And here’s what is going to happen then: Every patient Director Gray cuts – by law – has a right to appeal. There’ll be appeals and lawsuits out the wazoo and when there’re done there’ll probably be the same number of patients on Medicaid as there are now – except taxpayers will be out the $24 million Director Gray paid for his study, plus untold millions in legal fees.
Oh, yes, and while Director Gray is telling folks he’s got to cut care to patients with diseases like Muscular Dystrophy – Secretary Cansler spent $140,000 to fly 16 bureaucrats to sunny San Diego for two weeks for a conference.