Political Animal


January 29, 2013 9:29 AM Bad Faith Offer

By Ed Kilgore

Snakes alive, Bobby Jindal is a busy man these days! Even as pundits are still debating his Great Big Speech to the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee last week, here he comes again with a WaPo op-ed demanding that the president give governors like him unprecedented power over the Medicaid program.

Bobby modestly doesn’t mention his famous appointment at the age of 24 as administrator of the Louisiana agency that administers Medicaid. But he gets pretty condescendingly preachy anyway. And if you haven’t been paying attention to Medicaid politics for the last couple of decades, you might not recognize the code Jindal is using:

[A]fter nearly a half-century of running this program, states know its problems and how to address them.
A number of Republican governors have asked to meet with President Obama to discuss their solutions, but the White House has ignored these requests. The president claims that he wants to work across party lines to get things done for the American people, so perhaps he could start by meeting with Republican governors who want to solve our nation’s health-care problems.
Our ideas to fix Medicaid target several areas for reform: eligibility, benefit design, cost-sharing, use of the private insurance market, financing and accountability.

Eligibility refers to the Republican desire to de-qualify major categories of Medicaid beneficiaries. Benefit design means fewer benefits. Cost-sharing means charging beneficiaries sufficient deductibles, premiums and co-pays to discourage them from accessing medical services. Use of the private insurance market means what it says, and is based on the increasingly untenable theory that private insurance is cheaper than public insurance. Financing and accountability means Bobby and his friends want carte blanche to do what they want with Medicaid, without having to go to the trouble of applying for waivers to break the law (Medicaid is already far and away the federal-state program most liberal with state waivers).

Beyond the expert-sounding mumbo jumbo in Jindal’s op-ed, there is the sheer audacity of him demanding Medicaid concessions of the president when he is in the very midst of obstructing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act his state, refusing to participate in either the ACA’s Medicaid expansion or the establishment of health exchanges. And if that were not enough to indicate his bad-faith-offer to work with the Obama administration on “Medicaid reform,” there is his Great Big Speech in Charlotte, in which he argued that Republicans should go through every domestic government function and either abolish them or hand them over to total state control via a block grant.

Methinks Jindal should have waited a bit before posturing as the savior of Medicaid.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Celui on January 29, 2013 9:41 AM:

    Jindal as "the savior of Medicaid" is today's uproarious headline, sure to result in many a guffaw. Of course, as it is couched in the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo that befits a budget ally of Lyin' Ryan, Jindal's plan may be passed over in a cursory reading by those who don't want to think any deeper than the ink on the page, as it smacks of nothing more than punish the poor for being so, raid the block-grant sharing programs from the federal government to plug gaps in other state shortfalls, and --did I say 'Punish the Poor'? Oh, yeah, it's always the same old sameold. How can anyone be expected to take Jindal seriously? To what 'base' is he appealing? Old (persecuted, defamed, rich) GOP white men, it must be. Bobby, Bobby--go read the Sermon on the Mount. Get real for once.

  • c u n d gulag on January 29, 2013 9:50 AM:

    Thanks, Booby J, for proving what I've been saying for almost 30 years - that, when Conservatives say "Faith Initiative," what they really mean, is "An Intitiative Based on Bad Faith."

    Giving Conservatard Governors like Booby J more control over Medicaid, is like saying to your 9 year-old, "Ok, Son, here's my handgun and car key's, an' I've unlocked the liquor cabinet, so grab what you want. Go out for a nice drive, and have a good time! An' I don't care when you get home. Enjoy!"

    And then, when the Medicaid money in the state is all gone into the wallets of private insurers and their bought-and-paid-for politicians, Governors like Booby J, will be coming to the President asking him to bail them out.

    They must think President Obama is a member of "The Stupid Party," and not them.

  • Russ L on January 29, 2013 10:16 AM:

    Posturing as a savior is one of the Stations of the Cross of right wing pre-pre-candidacy. Ask Paul Ryan.

  • biggerbox on January 29, 2013 10:16 AM:

    You don't need to be a big expert in Medicaid to understand what Bobby J. is saying. It's pretty easy to run those phrases through any standard Republican filter and get to the right understanding. No one who isn't comatose in front of Fox News thinks that an up-and-coming Republican is proposing better health care for poor folk, so any of these changes must be about cutting costs and benefits.

  • golack on January 29, 2013 10:21 AM:

    not to mention they attacked President Obama for issuing waivers...

  • sgetti on January 29, 2013 10:27 AM:

    In his op-ed, Jindal refers to Medicaid recipients as 'consumers' as opposed to 'patients'. Is this more 'code' for the Conservative views of those in need?

    It's politicians like him that keep pushing the deadline closer to implement universal healthcare by advocating an unworkable patchwork of states preferences over countrywide efficiencies. You go Bobby - keep up the dissonance!

  • Rick B on January 29, 2013 10:42 AM:

    This is just more Southern attack on Blacks and the poor. Nicholas Lemann has just provided a brief history of the attacks that have been going on since the end of the Civil War in his article Deconstructing Reconstruction.

    The reason it is primarily a "Southern" attack is because the Old South remains the bastion of White Political Power in America, but it is clearly present throughout the United States.

    President Obama recognizes that the battle to implement the idea stated in the Declaration of Independence

    "“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” "

    Jindal is another of the American reactionaries who fight to keep these rights the exclusionary property of the wealthy American aristocrats.

    Yeah, I know I am preaching to the choir here. We need more such preaching and in more places.

  • June on January 29, 2013 11:20 AM:

    Can't help but wonder if this is Jindal's "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" moment.In 2008, Romney, no doubt, was sure he had nailed it. A lot can happen to the general zeitgeist over the next three years - especially with full implementation of the ACA set for 2014.

  • Barbara on January 29, 2013 11:56 AM:

    Jindal is still angling to get the ACA Medicaid expansion population scaled back. The problem is that the mandatory catagories are part of the statute, which cannot just be ignored or waived away. In other ways, Jindal comes across as a hard hearted scold who is in thrall to religious conservatives. Unlike GWB, he gives you no room for even imagining that he is someone you would like to have a beer with. Quite the opposite.