As the economy coils rapidly into a recession, the Bush administration is using its regulatory power to cut the legs out from under already-floundering state finances and shift $50 billion in federal Medicaid/Medicare spending onto state budgets, the House reported yesterday.
Since his election, Bush has made no bones of his opposition to entitlement spending, and these days, Bush is pummeling away at such programs with an ever more vigorous hand. In 2006, he proposed cutting $60 billion over 10 years for Medicaid. In 2007, Bush pushed $77 billion in cuts to Medicaid/Medicare spending over the next five years. This year, as Bush prepares to leave office, his proposed cuts to Medicaid/Medicare’s five-year budget have swelled to $200 billion.
It goes without saying that the growth in U.S. healthcare spending (which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projected last week will balloon to $4 trillion in the next 10 years) has to be checked. But unilaterally using the executive’s regulatory power to roll back entitlements blindly forces states to either pony up (no easy feat when 21 states face budget shortfalls) or, more likely, simply cut people from their rolls.
The first new rule took effect yesterday; without Congressional action, the second will go into effect in May. Four states are suing the White House to stop their enactment.