Monday, January 25, 2010

Minnesota Democrats double down on a lie

Tomorrow is the special election to replace Dick Day in the Minnesota Senate. Either afraid of the tea (party) leaves in Massachusetts, or just desperate to pick up a senate seat, the Minnesota DFL has resorted to attack ad that use a blatant lie to try to scare voters.

As I posted on last week, the MN DFL ran radio ads claiming that the Republican endorsed candidate, Mike Parry, wants to cut 30% from nursing home budgets. The ad claims a 15% state budget cut advocated by Parry would somehow lead to an automatic matching 15% cut from the federal government, making a total 30% cut to Minnesota seniors.

Not content to lie just on the radio, the MN DFL doubled down on the lie with a new attack ad that I just received in the mail today. Look at this and tell me this is not attempt to make people scared-

If you look closely at the second picture, you will see in the first paragraph of the inset, they even managed to spell Parry's name wrong. True professionals behind this ad.

At the bottom of the inset is a web address (really handy for all those web savvy senior citizens out there) that is the sole basis of proof for this ridiculous 30% claim.

Following the web address leads you to page 20 of a Minnesota legislative briefing packet prepared last year that never says one word about corresponding federal cuts to match state cuts. It does say this-

The federal share of MA costs for each state, referred to as the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), is usually determined by a formula included in Title XIX of the Social Security Act. The formula is based on the state's per capita income and is recalculated annually.

The briefing packet actually says two things that seem to specifically refute the DFL claim of matching federal cuts to Medicaid. First, the level of funding has already been cut in recent years, both by the DFL controlled legislature and the governor's unallotments-

The 2009 Legislature reduced payment rates for basic care services by 3 percent, effective July 1, 2009, and made proportional reductions in managed care and county-based purchasing plan capitation rates. This reduction does not apply to physician and professional services, inpatient hospital services, family planning services, mental health services, dental services, prescription drugs, and medical transportation. The governor, as part of unallotment, increased this reduction by an additional 1.5 percentage points (to a total of 4.5 percent) for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

State budget cuts in 2009 and unallotment caused no corresponding federal payment cuts (in fact federal payments went up), nor was there any public outcry about a potential loss of federal funds. The amount of federal payments to Minnesota is based on a federal formula, not the level of state funding.

Second, Minnesota provides services above and beyond what is required by the federal Medicaid program. From the briefing packet-

The following services have been designated "optional" by the federal government but are
available by state law to all MA recipients in Minnesota:
- Audiologist services
- Care coordination and patient education services provided by a community health worker -Case management for seriously and persistently mentally ill persons and for children with
serious emotional disturbances
- Case management and directly observed therapy for people with tuberculosis
- Chiropractor services
- Clinic services
- Dental services21
- Other diagnostic, screening, and preventive services
- Emergency hospital services
- Extended services to women
- Hearing aids
- Home and community-based waiver services
- Hospice care
- Some Individual Education Plan (IEP) services provided by a school district to disabled
- Some services for residents of Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMDs)
- Inpatient psychiatric facility services for persons under age 22
- Intermediate care facility services, including services provided in an intermediate care
facility for persons with developmental disabilities (ICF/DD)
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Medical transportation services
- Mental health services
- Nurse anesthetist services
- Certified geriatric, adult, OB/GYN, and neonatal nurse practitioner services
- Occupational therapy services
- Personal care assistant services
- Pharmacy services22
- Physical therapy services
- Podiatry services
- Private duty nursing services
- Prosthetics and orthotics
- Public health nursing services
- Rehabilitation services, including day treatment for mental illness
- Speech therapy services
- Vision care services and eyeglasses

All of the services above are provided by the state of Minnesota even though they are not required by federal standards, so in the event of state budget cuts, funding for any of the above services could be reduced without any impact at all on federal funds.

The Minnesota DFL, which created and paid for this ad, is lying to try to scare senior citizens into voting against Mike Parry. The timing of the ad mailing-the day before the election, seems calculated to do the maximum damage and at the same time leave no time for the lie to be refuted.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am a co-chairman for Steele County, which makes up the bulk of SD 26. I am not affiliated with the Parry campaign, and I received the attack ad in today's mail.


Tim said...

Good luck to Mike Parry!

I read the card - the best news is that the DFL ad IS true. Since the federales match what the state pays, a cut by the state IS a matching cut from Washington.

That's double the savings! This is great news for taxpayers.

Can nursing homes handle a cut that size? Of course they can. Government isn't just 15% too large, it's more like 75% too large. And remember, if more people would take care of their parents at home instead of dumping them in nursing homes, we would save money there, too.

My advice: Don't run away from this cut, embrace it and explain why it's a better idea.

Dave Thul said...

the allegation in the ad is incorrect.

The federal government, in a ridiculously complex formula, pays a lump for some areas of Medical Assistance and at matching rates for others. So a 15% cut to the state outlay for MA would not automatically trigger a federal cut as well.

It is akin to saying that if you take a 5% paycut at work, your 401k will suffer a 10% cut because your company offers a match.