The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Palin Reduced Medicaid Backlog 83% In Two Years

Posted by iusbvision on August 12, 2009

Governor Palin’s office:

Contrary to some assertions, Sarah Palin has a strong record supporting Alaskan seniors. For example, Governor Palin successfully obtained approval for a five year extension of a state program that provided monthly cash payments to low-income seniors.

Sarah at podium and pointing right at youOn May 23, 2007, using a rarely invoked emergency regulation, Governor Palin ordered assistance benefits to continue for Alaska’s neediest seniors after the Alaska legislature failed to fund the SeniorCare Program. After her action, the legislature responded, and on July 28, 2007, Governor Palin signed Senate Bill 4 to continue support for low-income Alaskan seniors by adopting the Senior Benefits Program. “This program continues important assistance to Alaska seniors,” Governor Palin said. “I promised that seniors would not go hungry, and we worked with the Alaska Legislature to address this critical need.” It was estimated that 10,700 Alaskan seniors would be able to benefit under the program.

Also under Governor Palin’s tenure, on December 19, 2008, the state stepped in and took over the Mary Conrad Center, an Anchorage nursing home, when the state determined that there was “’immediate danger to the health, safety or welfare’ of its residents.”

So, with this clear record of support and care for Alaska’s seniors by Governor Palin, what is the current criticism about? According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, prior to Governor Palin’s election in November 2006, in April of 2006, in an effort to control rapidly increasing costs for home health care providers, known as the PCA program, Governor Frank Murkowski’s administration implemented a screening process for Alaska Medicaid eligible persons by using a Level of Care assessment (LOC). The LOC assessment was designed for persons who would otherwise require hospitalization or nursing home care and was intended to help weed out fraud and abuse.

By definition, many of these people were ill, elderly or disabled and thus in need of personal care attendants to assist them. Only registered nurse assessors were allowed to evaluate consumers to determine if they qualified for PCA care. The job of assessing consumers was contracted out, but the State of Alaska DHHS determined that the hired contractor had too much backlog. Notably, under federal Medicaid strictures, the State could not get another private business to bid on the contract. So the State was forced to take over the job in November 2007. However, the State DHHS was unable to eliminate the backlog using its own staff, and the backlog then grew. The Federal DHHS temporarily suspended new admissions to the PCA program pending audit compliance to handle the backlog of existing cases and come up with a plan to speed the assessment process. The suspension has been lifted as of August 12.

Further, Gov. Palin’s FY 2009 budget clearly showed her analysis of the issue as of December 2007, and described both the problem and the solution long before the federal government got involved. The backlog issue was discussed and a plan proposed for improvement.

The graph below shows that under Gov. Palin (2007 and 2008) the backlog problem was dramatically reduced, from 30.9% in 2005 to 4.5% in 2008. Looking at these data, one can conclude that Gov. Palin substantially reduced the outstanding percentage of Medicaid assessments by 83%.

Palin elderly medicade assessments

% Not Reviewed

FY 2008 4.5%

FY 2007 4.5%

FY 2006 23.18%

FY 2005 30.9%

What is the lesson in all of this? Even with good intentions, the government generally cannot provide better health care services than the private sector. Beware of complex federal laws purporting to offer government health care. For those who want nationalized medicine, take heed of this lesson.

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