Ideology Getting in the Way of a Coronavirus Response
A tip of the hat to "Sechel", one of my readers for the title of this post.
Despite mounting pleas from California and other states, the Trump administration isn’t allowing states to use Medicaid more freely to respond to the coronavirus crisis by expanding medical services.
In previous emergencies, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the H1N1 flu outbreak, both Republican and Democratic administrations loosened Medicaid rules to empower states to meet surging needs.
But months into the current global disease outbreak, the White House and senior federal health officials haven’t taken the necessary steps to give states simple pathways to fully leverage the mammoth safety net program to prevent a wider epidemic.
And it threatens to slow efforts by states to bring on new medical providers, set up emergency clinics or begin quarantining and caring for homeless Americans at high risk from the virus.
One reason federal health officials have not acted appears to be President Trump’s reluctance to declare a national emergency. That’s a key step that would clear the way for states to get Medicaid waivers to more nimbly tackle coronavirus, but it would conflict with Trump’s repeated efforts to downplay the seriousness of the epidemic.
Another element may be ideological: The administration official who oversees Medicaid, Seema Verma, head of the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has been a champion of efforts by conservative states to trim the number of people enrolled in Medicaid.
Regardless of what you think about Medicaid, this president is making massive numbers of enemies of moderate Democrats who helped elect him in 2016.
Trump was already on a path to lose the 2020 election and he appears to be doing everything possible to seal that fate.
Appealing to the base, when the base is going nowhere, is precisely the wrong thing to do.
Reader Sechel came up with the perfect title to this article.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock