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NY Times on Rhode Island's Medicaid Experiment

The New York Times had a piece this weekend on Rhode Island's Medicaid experiment - and the GOP's push to trumpet it in the sale of its Medicaid block grant proposal:

With Republicans pushing to rein in Medicaid costs, an experiment in Rhode Island is drawing the attention of some conservatives who say it has led to substantial savings without reducing care for the state’s poorest patients.

The experiment is the closest to an example of the kinds of changes that Republicans say they want to make — limiting federal spending for Medicaid while giving states more freedom to decide what benefits to offer and how to control the costs.

But an examination of Rhode Island’s experience shows it has not yielded the kinds of savings its supporters claim.

Federal spending on Medicaid continues to rise in Rhode Island, including payments the federal government would not be making otherwise. And unlike a Republican plan that passed the House last month, under which states could lose a substantial amount of federal financing for Medicaid, Rhode Island is virtually guaranteed more money than the state itself has estimated it needs.

As this last paragraph suggests, the Republicans' PR effort is hampered not only by an apparent misrepresentation of the facts - Rhode Island's push does not seem to be working out all that well - but by mixed metaphor. The state's Medicaid experiment is quite different than that proposed by Congressional Republicans.

It is the latest hiccup in the GOP's faltering effort to sell a budget-cutting platform. Indeed, one wonders if the notion that this is a different time - an economy fundamentally transformed, a new appetite for slashing government spending, an austerity chic - will hold. The dismal approval ratings for slash-and-burn Republican governors like Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Rick Scott suggest otherwise.

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