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July 16, 2012

Govs: States need Medicaid flexibility

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- A pair of Republican governors Sunday asked the Obama administration to give states more flexibility in running their Medicaid programs.

Govs. Rick Scott of Florida and Terry Branstad of Iowa said Washington's recent move to provide states more sway on welfare work requirements was fine, but there was a more pressing need to grant states greater control over Medicaid.

"It would be great if they gave us more flexibility on Medicaid, because that's just killing our state's budgets," Scott said on "Fox News Sunday."

Scott said the number of people on Medicaid and the associated costs had skyrocketed nationwide in recent years, and state officials nationwide were increasingly hard-pressed to keep budgets balanced while meeting federal requirements.

"Medicaid in our states is growing three and a half times our general revenues," Scott said. "Give us more flexibility on Medicaid. Give us a block grant. That's what they ought to be doing."

Branstad said federal "maintenance" requirements on services provided by Medicaid were particularly onerous since states have seen their revenues plummet at the same time more people are being pushed into the Medicaid system.

"Our concern is the federal government can't afford it and we don't think that the state of Iowa can do it," Branstad said. "I think if you look at it realistically and you look at what they ought to be doing...we've got to reform the whole entitlement program."

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