Cut state government now to balance Medicaid budget, GOP candidate for governor Moffett says

03/20/2011 03:47 PM

Lawmakers and the governor should be able to find “low hanging fruit” to cut from government in order to plug the more than $100 million hold in the Medicaid program this year, Republican candidate for governor Phil Moffett said.

State legislators have been struggling to agree on a way to handle that deficit. House Democrats prefer Gov. Steve Beshear’s plan of moving money forward from the 2012 budget, while Senate Republicans want to cut agencies across the board, including education programs in 2012.

Moffett, who is running in the GOP primary for governor that includes Senate President David Williams, initially said he disagreed with both approaches.

“I don’t agree with either of them, to be honest with you. They’re both government-think,” he said. “If I were to ask my mortgage company if I could move money forward from next year to pay my mortgage today, I think they would get a good laugh out of that.”

Moffett said while the Senate Republican proposal calls for cuts now so as not to rely on moving money forward a year, it doesn’t address systemic budget problems like public employee pension funding.

But, when pressed, he seemed to be more in line with the Senate Republicans.

If lawmakers don’t come to an agreement, the governor would have to balance the budget within the Medicaid program. Beshear has said notices of cuts in Medicaid payments would go out April 1 to doctors and hospitals who provide health care to the poor and disabled who rely on Medicaid.

The cuts would be about 35%, Beshear has warned.

Moffett said he doesn’t want “to punish the doctors” and hospitals by allowing cuts to the Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Moffett said he didn’t accept the premise that additional cuts to agencies would lead to layoffs of state employees even though personnel is the biggest expense for many agencies.

Moffett, a Louisville businessman, has billed himself as the tea party movement’s candidate in the GOP race. He faces Williams and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw in the primary.

The lieutenant governor candidate running with Moffett is Republican state Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville. Harmon was one of 19 members of the House to vote during the regular session against the proposal to move money from the 2012 budget forward a year to cover the Medicaid gap.

- Ryan Alessi


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