Mitt Romney: Sending Medicaid Back To The States Won't Hurt The Poor

Mitt Romney, who earlier this week declared that he didn't know what Medicaid was before he got into government, told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace that block granting Medicaid back to the states wouldn't hurt the poor. WALLACE: But you don't
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Mitt Romney, who earlier this week declared that he didn't know what Medicaid was before he got into government, told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace that block granting Medicaid back to the states wouldn't hurt the poor.

WALLACE: But you don't think if you cut $700 billion in aid to the states that some people are going to get hurt?

ROMNEY: In the same way by cutting welfare spending dramatically, I don't think we hurt the poor. In the same way I think we cut Medicaid spending by having it go to the states, run more efficiently with less fraud, I don't think we'll hurt the people that depend on the program for their health care.

As Dave already noted in the post linked above, according to the CBO, that's exactly what Ryan and Romney's plans to send Medicaid back to the states would do -- CBO Confirms Ryan’s Medicaid Block Grant Would Likely Harm States, Beneficiaries, and Providers :

The majority of the $1.4 trillion in Medicaid cuts over the next ten years in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget would come from converting the program into a block grant. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued an analysis yesterday finding that block-granting Medicaid would shift costs to states, beneficiaries, and health care providers — just as we have argued. Among CBO’s key findings: [...]

Starting in 2013, the Ryan plan would cap federal Medicaid funding and adjust the block grant amount each year only by general population growth and inflation — less than half of the increase now projected for Medicaid to account for factors like rising health care costs and an aging population. The cuts would grow each year, relative to what states would receive under current law, totaling $771 billion over the next ten years. CBO’s analysis confirms that these cuts would likely force states to scale back their Medicaid programs considerably. Low-income children, seniors, and people with disabilities make up the bulk of Medicaid beneficiaries, so they’d be hit the hardest.

Transcript below the fold.

WALLACE: I want to pick up on that, because now, let's look at it from the Democrats' point of view if you end up as the nominee, because they're also going to attack your budget just exactly the other way. You say that you would push -- it says on your Web site, one of your goals -- pass the House plan, Congressman Paul Ryan's plan to cut the budget.

Let's look into that. Cut Medicaid, health coverage for the poor, by $700 billion. Cut food stamps by $127 billion. Cut Pell Grants for low-income college students in half.

You would cut all of these programs, Governor, that people depend on and a lot more than that.

ROMNEY: Actually, the great news about those programs is that in the Ryan plan and in the plan I've put forward, I take a program -- the biggest of those that is Medicaid, I take the Medicaid dollars, send them back to the states without the mandates as to how they have to treat --

WALLACE: You're also cutting the budget by $700 million.

ROMNEY: What I do is I take the money and send it back to the states and say we're going to grow that funding at inflation, the CPI, plus 1 percent. By doing, that you save an enormous amount of money.

I happened to believe that states can do a better job caring for their own poor, rooting out the fraud and waste and abuse that exists within their programs.

WALLACE: But you don't think if you cut $700 billion in aid to the states that some people are going to get hurt?

ROMNEY: In the same way by cutting welfare spending dramatically, I don't think we hurt the poor. In the same way I think we cut Medicaid spending by having it go to the states, run more efficiently with less fraud, I don't think we'll hurt the people that depend on the program for their health care.

WALLACE: Well, I want to pursue it because I think this is -- if you end up against Barack Obama really one of the central issues. The president says that he is going to campaign as the champion of the middle class and portray the Republican nominee, whoever it is, as pushing tax cuts for the wealthy, spending cuts for the poor and rolling back regulations that help protect people and the environment. He's vulnerable to that.

ROMNEY: He's extraordinarily vulnerable because we'll say how did that work, Mr. President? Your four years in office, how well did those programs work? Did the poverty decline in this country? Did they go up? Joblessness, you came in the office and said, "Let me borrow $787 billion and I'll keep unemployment below 8 percent" which itself was an extraordinarily high number, and he hasn't been below 8 percent since.

His policies have not worked. His -- we need regulation, for instance, as you point out. We need regulation in our society. I'm not someone that says get rid of all regulation. We need just regulation that's updated and modern and that encourages enterprise as opposed to burdening it.

His great failing is he does not understand how this economy works, and how his policies have made it harder for this economy to put Americans back to work. I do know how the economy works and my policies are designed to get people what they desperately want. Not care for being poor, they want to stop being poor, have a good job and have a bright future.

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