By Hilary Russell
Republican lawmakers still believe there’s more than one way to skin a deficit, and it’s not by raising taxes.
Read more about the Deficit Reduction Committee here. The GOP committee members, including Sens. Matt Murphy and Carole Pankau, released a report today that offered ways to save money, saving the most cutting and consolidating various programs within Medicaid. (Full report here; summary here.)
“There’s a public expectation out there that we get serious about tightening government’s belt — like they’re having to do it at home — and to do it without raising their taxes,” Murphy said in a Statehouse news conference. “And we’re here to say we heard the public in that regard.”
According to the report, the most significant Medicaid cut could come from applying for a federal waiver for Medicaid-eligible programs to capture as much as $435 million more in federal matching funds. Another suggestion is the creation of a private-public partnership, which would transfer decisions regarding benefit eligibility to private partners. That, in turn, would help to decrease the opportunity for fraudulent claims. And, while all of the savings weren’t specified, the report suggests that a new way to manage pharmaceutical benefits and higher co-pays could save $110 million in one year and $730 million over five years.
Murphy said the Republican committee members found areas in the state’s finances that could be reduced or eliminated, saving a total of more than $3 billion annually and more than $20 billion throughout the next five years.
“This is a meaningful deficit reduction without raising taxes, and it’s a serious answer to those who are asking for alternatives to the governor’s record-setting tax hike,” Murphy added.
Last week ended the series of four bipartisan Deficit Reduction Committee meetings in which members heard from various budget experts about ways to fix the state’s deficit. Despite hours of testimony, members were no closer to solving the state’s financial crisis than when they started.
Without assigning a dollar amount to the savings, the report also listed trimming pension benefits for new state employees, requiring more managed care health benefits for existing and new employees and allowing more charter schools to open as additional cost-cutting measures.