U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita today took part in the House Budget Committee's mark-up of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution, which was introduced yesterday. In his opening statement, he highlighted the Medicaid reforms in the budget, which were based on the State Health Flexibility Act he introduced last Congress and reintroduced last month. He also commended the success of the Healthy Indiana Plan, which the House budget cites as a model for Medicaid reform efforts at the state level.
The markup is expected to continue late into the evening and may be viewed live on C-SPAN3 or by clicking here. The full text of Rokita's opening statement, as prepared for delivery, is below:
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
"I want to thank you for your leadership and commitment to produce a responsible federal budget that balances within 10 years. I am proud to support the bold solutions contained in this budget and look forward to its swift passage. These solutions are built on a premise that all American families understand: we cannot keep spending money we don't have.
"Even under this budget, the federal government will spend $41 trillion over the next 10 years. That is a lot of taxpayer money. We must be good stewards of these tax dollars by ensuring they are being spent efficiently, particularly when it comes to social safety net programs. Instead of asking "How much money can we throw at these programs?" we must instead ask "Are these programs working?"
"One thing that is not working in America is Medicaid. Medicaid recipients have trouble finding doctors because the reimbursement rate, on average, is 56 percent of what the private sector pays. Health outcomes are poor. A 2010 study suggested that surgical patients on Medicaid were 13 percent more likely to die than those without health insurance at all. This program is also pushing our states closer and closer to the brink of fiscal collapse. States, on average, now spend more on Medicaid than any other expense. And the dramatic expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare will only make these problems worse.
"Instead of shoving millions more Americans into a failing program, like Obamacare does, we should look at what reforms are working on the ground. Rhode Island and my home state of Indiana are great examples. Through our Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), my state has demonstrated how health benefits can be extended to low-income Americans without increasing costs. Similarly, the state of Rhode Island accepted spending caps on their Medicaid program for 5 years and transitioned to a managed care system, saving the state millions of dollars.
"These successful programs only work when the federal government gives states the flexibility to design and manage their own programs. Such flexibility is incorporated in the budget before us today. With elements of my State Health Flexibility Act included, our budget devolves the federal share of Medicaid spending to the states, allowing them to tailor programs to their unique populations. I believe this solution will strengthen the Medicaid program, protect our society's most vulnerable, and leave a healthier country to future generations.
"Again, I commend the Chairman and the members of this Committee for producing a responsible budget. I look forward to its passage both here today and on the House floor."