Florida Governor Outed as Defending Erroneous Medicaid Spending Data

Truth in advertising? Rick Scott — Republican governor of Florida and, along with Texas governor, Rick Perry — is often most closely aligned with the drive to counter the acceptance of government funds as part of the ACA to expand Medicaid in his own state. He often trumpets spending and deficit data to back up his claims of what he terms as reckless use of taxpayer use to fund “Obamacare”. Today, the Florida Medicaid spending data he touts has been called inaccurate and “flawed”. Yet, he continues to use them.

A report details Scott has not only known about the “flawed” Medicaid numbers, but he has also continued to use them for weeks.

The flawed report, “Estimates Related to the Affordable Care Act,” was sent to members of the Legislative Budget Commission on Dec. 17. Three days later, two of the recipients pointed out the faulty assumptions and sent it back to AHCA for a do-over.  They said it would violate Florida law to proceed with the estimate.

But Michael Anway, Scott’s new coordinator for health policy and budget, sent an e-mail Friday to the others saying he will submit the original estimates  as an “alternative forecast” when the revised AHCA report comes before the next budget estimating conference.

These findings appear to be indicative of consistent behavior by Scott. In the late 1990s, the current Florida governor then ran one of the largest for-profit hospital chains in the country. After years of investigations of the chain involving Medicare and Medicaid fraud, Scott was forced to resign from that position. Scott’s new policy coordinator, by the way, is no stranger to insider politics.

Anway joined Scott’s staff in early December after working for members of Congress, then for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA. The Center for Responsive Politics’ web site Open Secrets.org names Anway on its list of people in the “Revolving Door,” who go from the government to industry lobbyist and back.

Although other Republican governors have taken the antagonistic posture similarly to Perry and Scott, it is unlikely that their states will follow suit. The federal government’s cash outlay to increase care access under the ACA for newly qualified beneficiaries guarantees payouts starting next year and running roughly a decade forward — with the feds picking up the majority tab until 2017. By the end of the 2010s, however, the projected spending by the government under this new Medicaid state and federal partnership will still remain north of 90 percent. For many states, this untested use of federal Medicaid dollars is too great to refuse. As for Scott, his estimates of his state’s liability over the next decade ($26B) have been refuted by at least a couple of analyses.

08. January 2013 by Michael Douglas, MD, MBA
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