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Does Herman Cain Want A State Takeover of Medicare?

Herman Cain is certain to face tough questioning about his personal behavior in tonight’s CNBC debate among the Republican presidential hopefuls. But one of the candidate’s recent policy proposals might merit more attention from the debate’s moderators:  Just how does Cain propose to fix Medicare’s finances?

During his health policy speech last week, Cain made a reference to Medicare that indicated that he either doesn’t know that Medicare, the program for the elderly and disabled, is run and financed solely by the federal government — or that he thinks it shouldn’t be. Medicaid, the safety net program for the poor, is the program jointly financed by the states and the federal government.

Judge for yourself by viewing the video above.  A transcript follows:

The way that I am going to help all of us convince the American public that we’ve got to restructure Medicare and not just change the benefits and retirement age is to paint a real clear picture of the disaster path that we’re on. That’s #1.

Secondly, back to one of my guiding principles, talk to the states, talk to the doctors and find out what can we do first to reduce the Medicare bureaucracy that’s imposed on doctors and health care providers and hospitals. I believe, based upon listening to doctors, that there’s a lot that can be done.

Much of the over-regulatory burden that’s imposed by Medicare is driven by the fact that the bureaucrats don’t trust states and hospitals. I do. I would rather error on the side of trusting the states and maybe five of them won’t get it right, but that the other 45 are going to get it right and we all will benefit.

The question here is: Does Cain propose shifting some of the responsibility for Medicare to the states? That would be a bold reform. When Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a similar proposal about a state role in managing Social Security, it led to a firestorm of criticism, but Cain’s ideas about Medicare have generated nary a ripple.

Alternatively, does this businessman running for president not realize that states don’t have the same shared role in Medicare as they do in Medicaid?

Cain’s opponents who have served as governors — Perry, Mitt Romney and John Huntsman, who have had to deal with Medicaid budgets – aren’t likely to forget which program is which. Maybe they will ask Cain about it in tonight’s debate.

Emails to the Cain campaign were not returned.