Give the management and the money for health care over to the states, a panel of Republican governors said at a McCloskey Speaker Series event in August. Just when the health care debate returned to the Senate in late July, most of the nation’s 33 GOP governors were attending the annual meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Aspen. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made time to speak with Institute CEO Walter Isaacson about health care, opioids, cybersecurity, and more—pointing out their ability to get problems solved as debates over issues and budgets drag on at the federal level.
Walker suggested states be given full-scale block grants for health care. “The best approach is to give full responsibility and resources to the states,” he said, noting that although Wisconsin did not take the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, the state does not have an insurance gap—that is, few Wisconsin residents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for tax credits. Greitens made the case for “maximum flexibility” so states can do what works for them. For example, he said, Missouri is a leading center for telemedicine, which has lowered costs and expanded care in rural areas yet is restricted under Medicaid. And Bryant suggested just starting over from scratch with health care—determine a budget first, then borrow good ideas from the states. “We need to stop politicizing this issue,” Bryant said. “Lives depend on what we do.”