Medicaid Playbook of Right-Wing Rauner Adviser Includes Privatization, Dangerous Cuts, Political Panels Placing Limits on Prescription Drugs

“Done in the name of efficiency...which in fact never was true.”

CHICAGO (February 18, 2015) -- The woman chosen by Gov. Bruce Rauner to preside over massive cuts to Medicaid and other social programs has previewed her playbook of privatization, dangerous cuts and having political appointees decide what drugs Medicaid recipients should and shouldn't get.

Following, and referenced in these clips, are some of Donna Arduin’s greatest hits over the years, advising Govs. George Pataki, Rick Scott, Arnold Schwarznegger, among others, in how to enact devastating social programs to the neediest.

Cutting Medicaid for the sake of cutting, then hoping “for the best”

Before she became more polished in selling her massive cuts to Medicaid, Arduin experienced a rare moment of candor, explaining massive cuts to Medicaid acknowledging that there was nothing to support an argument that it produced efficiency.

In 1995, as a deputy budget director for New York Gov. George Pataki, she told the New York Times: “The first thing you can do is hope that the cut will force industries to create efficiencies. We can only hope for the best there.” (“In New York The Dying Days of Expansive Government” The New York Times, May 8, 1995)

Replacing more effective drugs with down-brand, generic alternatives

Arduin proposed a cost-cutting plan for then-Florida Gov. “Jeb” Bush  to replace effective drugs for Medicaid recipients with down-brand, less-effective generic alternatives. “If they started switching people from the new drugs to the old drugs, it would turn the clock back years,” one critic told the St. Petersburg Times in 1999. (“Plans Push Cheaper Medicines” St. Petersburg Times, February 28, 1999)

Political appointees limit drugs to Medicaid patients

Arduin’s radical plan for Jeb Bush included installing a politically-appointed panel that “would describe which drugs require authorization,” according to the St. Petersburg Times. (“Medicaid Cost-Cutters looking to lose Viagra” St. Petersburg Times, April 19, 1999)

Getting “compassionate conservative” rhetoric down, Arduin begins to claim that limiting Medicaid drugs was to benefit other social programs

Where before Arduin provided no “compassionate conservative” justification,  in 2000, she justified a draconian program to limit Medicaid drugs by claiming (falsely) that it was being done to expand other social spending. She told the Ledger that, “We’re trying to manage our funds better so we can use the funds for other needs like developmental disabilities and improving student achievement.” (“Bush Aims to Cut Medicaid Drug Costs” The Ledger [Lakeland, Fla] February 21, 2000)

Arduin’s “efficiency” rhetoric is a sham

As Arduin continued to work for Republican governors seeking to cut Medicaid and social services, her game plan was clear. A Florida lobbyist described it thusly in 2003: “There have been a lot of serious cuts proposed...It was always done in the name of efficiency and streamlining, and the rhetoric always followed that it was not going to hurt the delivery of servides, which in fact never was true.” (“Budget auditor may target social services” Sacramento Bee [California] October 19, 2003)

Cuts to therapy for the disabled and AIDS programs and reduced payment rates for Medicaid

As part of her controversial 2003 proposal of cuts to California’s Medicaid program, Arduin targeted disabled children and immigrants with AIDS. As well, she sought lower payments to doctors and hospitals for Medicaid patients.(“Schwarzenegger Aide Offers First List of Proposed Budget Cuts” The New York Times November 26, 2003)

Would put tens of thousands of children on a waiting list for Medicaid

Arduin proposed placing tends of thousands of California children on a waiting list for Medicaid benefits as part of her 2003 proposal. (“Schwarzenegger proposal alarms children health advocates” Associated Press December 1, 2003)

“Donna Arduin is (Gov. Schwarznegger’s) John Ashcroft.”

As she proposed massive cuts to California’s Medicaid program, Arduin was compared in 2004 to the ideologically pure member of George W. Bush’s cabinet. “Her history has been one of slashing and burning on social programs,” one legislator said. (“Governor’s Hard-Nosed Budget Boss; Arduin Known for Tough Fiscal Views” San Jose Mercury News March 8, 2004)

Draconian proposals included ending access protections for developmentally disabled

Arduin’s massive cuts to Medicaid and social programs were rejected in budget talks in California in 2004, but not before she proposed ending legislation guaranteeing access to programs for the developmentally disabled, care for homebound family members and a string of Medicaid caps. (“Revised budget backs off cuts; $103 billion plan mostly spares health services” Sacramento Bee [California] May 14, 2004)

Rejects legislative oversight and storms out of hearing

During Schwarznegger’s first week in office, according to the Los Angeles Times, Arduin stormed out of a committee hearing during a question. She left the position in California after 11 months and in controversy. (“Audit to Leave Finance Position” Los Angeles Times October 14, 2004)

Sought to end $10 million program for strays and more quickly euthanize cats and dogs

As part of her round of cuts in California, Arduin proposed ending $10 million in aid to shelters which would have “shortened the length of time dogs and cats are kept alive at shelters.” ("A Florida Transplant, Arduin was on Job for Less than a Year” San Francisco Chronicle October 14, 2004)

Anti-ObamaCare, free-market Medicaid voucher program a failure

Arduin has been a critic of ObamaCare and has proposed vouchers as a replacement. A pilot plan in Florida she supported was a total failure. “Hardly any of the 300,000 Medicaid patients enrolled in the pilot project…” the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported. (“Skimming Through the GOP Gubernatorial Job Plans” Sun-Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale, Florida] July 29, 2010)