George W. Bush once said that he governed from the gut. He sounded tough and a lot of people liked that he didn’t let all those pesky facts get in the way. It wasn’t until we found ourselves mired in two wars and a crumbling economy that we realized his instincts were so bad.
The Republicans in Raleigh are governing much the same way except instead of following their instincts, they’re following their ideologies. In the case of motorcycle helmets, they listened to no studies about the cost to the public in terms of increased medical cost or the number of lives saved. They just know that it interferes with personal freedom. In drug testing welfare applicants, they ignore data that shows these programs cost more than they save, catch very few offenders and probably violate people’s constitutional right to privacy. But somehow, they know that too many people on public assistance are hooked on drugs.
But Pat McCrory’s plan to privatize North Carolina’s award-winning Medicaid program is probably the most egregious example. While Gov. McCrory was announcing his plan to dismantle the program, Sen. Richard Burr was in Winston-Salem at an award ceremony recognizing the state’s program as one that “prevents disease and improves the well-being of the population.” In addition, growth in our Medicaid program is slower than the nation as whole or any of our Southern neighbors.
Regardless, this government program does not fit into the free-market box favored by McCrory and company. They want to put the Medicaid contract up for bid and sell it to the lowest bidder. In their nice, neat ideological world, the efficiency of the market will provide better service at a lower cost.
Unfortunately, Medicaid doesn’t work that way. Other states have tried what the governor is proposing and failed. Oklahoma, in fact, is using North Carolina as a model to fix their broken managed-care program and Kentucky’s privatized system is “in chaos.”
Instead of improving on a system that is working, McCrory and company are going to tear it down and start from scratch. Regardless of all the evidence to the contrary, they know they’re right. They can feel it in their gut.