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Think tank slams Gary Alexander’s paper

March 17, 2011

Remember the report Gary Alexander published about the success of Rhode Island’s Global Medicaid Waiver?

Alexander, the former Secretary of RI’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services, made claims the state couldn’t verify on the website of The Galen Institute– a free market think tank that advocates for overturning the federal health care overhaul.

Now, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is striking back with its own report, refuting Alexander’s claims that “The Rhode Island experience [with the Global Medicaid Waiver] is quietly being noticed as the mother of innovation and a model for the nation.”

Authors Jesse Cross-Call and Judith Solomon say Rhode Island’s move to cap its federal Medicaid funds in exchange for more flexibility was in no way an example for the rest of the country.

Rhode Island waiver was a “sweetheart deal” between the Bush Administration — in its final week of office — and the Republican
governor of Rhode Island, in which the federal government effectively unloaded additional federal money on the state and gave Rhode Island federal funds beyond what it would receive under the regular Medicaid program, in return for the state accepting a cap on its Medicaid expenditures at an inflated level that it never expected to reach anyway.

Such a deal would be impossible to replicate under proposals to convert the Medicaid program to a block grant; such proposals are designed to cut federal Medicaid funding by tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, the opposite of what happened in Rhode Island.

The authors also say supporters of RI’s Global Waiver (AKA Alexander) have been misleading about how much money the waiver saved the state.

The claimed state savings largely reflect the receipt by the state of large amounts of additional federal Medicaid funds under the Recovery Act, which had nothing to do with the Rhode Island global waiver.

Back in Rhode Island, the Department of Human Services still hasn’t offered data on how much money the waiver has saved.  Gary Alexander claims savings were around $110 million dollars in the waiver’s 18 months. But Dave Burnett with RI’s Department of Human Services says he’s “not sure where those numbers come from.”

Gary Alexander is now in Pennsylvania.  He’s  been nominated to serve as the state’s Secretary of Public Welfare but hasn’t been confirmed yet.  Alexander’s bio lists the Global Waiver as one of his major achievements.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Bruce permalink
    March 17, 2011 10:18 pm

    Thank you so much for staying on top of this story. The devil in the details is easily ignored in the world of self-promotion. More importantly, you are helping to assure that the citizens of RI understand that this “success” may not be all that the former Secretary says it is.

  2. Jon Lax permalink
    March 18, 2011 6:59 am

    Bullseye! Great piece, Megan.

  3. Diraj permalink
    September 4, 2011 12:35 am

    well now he’s doing it to PA, he is just here temporaly because he is waiting to see if his repuplican friend gets nominated for Pres. Than he quiits the job in Pa quickly. He is just using Pa. He doesnt care about the citizens only his ambition

    • September 6, 2011 10:21 pm

      Diraj- What are you seeing in PA? How is Alexander viewed in general over there? What do you think of his LLC in Rhode Island?

      • March 13, 2012 5:46 pm

        we dont think he is doing a good job listening to the people in the state

      • March 13, 2012 10:25 pm

        Thanks for your comment Sarah! In what way?


  1. Wall St Journal praises RI’s global Medicaid waiver « The Pulse: health care in RI
  2. Gary Alexander’s report reappears « The Pulse: health care in RI
  3. Thank you, Megan Hall! « On Politics

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