May 29, 2015

The movie Midway tells the story of the men who broke the back of the Japanese Navy at the battle of Midway in 1942. In the movie, a bitter Navy pilot, guzzling whiskey at the bar on the eve of sailing into combat, condemns the brass for ignoring warnings Pearl Harbor was vulnerable to air attack, complaining they preferred to wait and see.

He says “Wait and see.” We waited. December 7th, we saw… The “Wait and see”-ers will bust your ass *every time*!

There is also a group of Medicaid budget wait and seers who tell people we don’t have a Medicaid spending problem. One of them said the other day that the Legislature’s Fiscal Research Analyst said state Medicaid spending was $3.8 billion in 2011 and was lower today. His claim doesn’t seem accurate.

According to Fiscal Research, state Medicaid spending (Appropriation + Shortfall) was $3.1 billion in 2011, $3.3 billion in 2012, and $3.3 billion in 2013, $3.4 billion in 2014 and $3.6 billion in 2015 (September 24, 2014).

The same Fiscal Research report said 2014 did not include an extra $200 million in the Medicaid Reserve Fund which would bring that total up to $3.6 billion.

These numbers are going up, not down like the wait and seer-er wants us to believe.

Fiscal Research also gave Legislators a warning. “Utilizing the national projections for health care spending growth; by maintaining status quo in terms of eligibility, benefits, rates and programs, Medicaid appropriations will likely grow at a faster rate than overall revenue – Medicaid will consume a larger proportion of available funding.”

How can we deal with other priorities if Medicaid keeps grabbing bigger pieces of the revenue pie?

Republicans were elected to steer an honest fiscal course, not to pretend problems don’t exist.

Like the massive unfunded debts in Washington’s entitlement programs, North Carolina entitlements have their own hidden deficits for the future. If Legislators start tackling our problems today instead of waiting for tomorrow, they will be easier to solve without dramatic harm to the people who depend on a secure safety net.