On October 5, 2005 — exactly seven years ago tomorrow, Governor Mitt Romney signed into law a bill directing the state to ask the federal government for more Medicaid money for home and community support services for autistic children who, without that support, would be classified as at risk of being placed in an institution. The Romney administration asked for the additional Medicaid money, it was approved, and today the program is helping 160 children and their families get services at home.
In 2015, the state will have to ask the federal government to renew the funds. And so the question arises — would a President Romney continue or discontinue the funding for this program, one that Governor Romney asked for?
President Clinton is not encouraged. In his Convention speech, he listed the kinds of programs that would be under threat in a Romney budget, specifically mentioning services for autistic children:
They also want to block-grant Medicaid, and cut it by a third over the coming 10 years. And a lot of that [Medicaid] money is…spent to help people with disabilities, including a lot of middle-class families whose kids have Down’s syndrome or autism or other severe conditions. And honestly, let’s think about it, if that happens, I don’t know what those families are going to do.
And here is a grim chart prepared by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projecting the cuts that would likely result under a Romney budget.
The two downward pointing lines are the percentage of cuts to discretionary spending that would be required to meet Romney’s goal of limiting federal spending to 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and of increasing defense spending to 4 percent of GDP. The brown line assumes Medicare cuts, and the blue line assumes Medicare would be spared. Not looking good for the autism program, one would have to conclude. Or for Pell Grants, child nutrition programs, roads, bridges, science or research.
Candidate Romney refuses to specify what President Romney might do, so I’ll ask the question without really expecting an answer: when the autism program comes up for funding renewal, what happens? What Would Mitt Do?
(Cross-posted here. Tomorrow’s the anniversary of Gov. Romney’s request.)