Arizona’s Addiction to Unhealthy Government Handouts

I wonder why the Wall Street Journal insists on running op-eds that are sure to infuriate its loyal readers (like myself). This morning, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano trotted out the tired old argument that President Bush is unfairly tightening the screws on states’ social programs, especially state children’s health insurance programs (SCHIP) and Medicaid.

Gov. Napolitano’s wants to talk about “Washington paying its bills.” In her worldview, “the beauty of SCHIP is that its a federal-state partnership,” and President Bush’s policy of demanding that states to enrol kids in families below 250% of the Federal Poverty Line before giving those states more of our money means that “states must now carry the additional burden of providing health care for these children.”

Arizona ranks a miserable 42 out of 50 in the U.S. Index of Health Ownership’s ranking of government health programs. It is truly dependent on residents of the other 49 states (or at least 41 of them) to finance its profligacy. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Gov. Napolitano is desperate to keep her states’ place at the trough.

Her op-ed is perfectly co-ordinated with the Democratic Congressional majority’s attack on the President’s proposed regulations to impose fiscal responsibility on Medicaid and prevent states from gaming the system.

Do these people really believe that the federal government has a source of money that the states do not have? Or if taxpayers in Arizona want to subsidize health care for fellow citizens, that it makes more sense to send their taxes to DC first, and back to Arizona only after the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Baltimore has taken its cut?

Of course not: They just want you to think that when the state government makes the federal government pick your right pocket, instead of the state picking your left pocket directly, you are somehow being “relieved of the burden” of paying for other people’s health care.

I have written that the federal government must drastically change the way it funds Medicaid. The current mechanism virtually guarantees that states will spend beyond our means.

The real “cost shift” is from taxpaying citizens to bloated government health care. And Gov. Napolitano’s op-ed demonstrates that perfectly.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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