Ideologies of Aid, Practices of Power: Lessons for Medicaid Managed Care

Abstract

The articles in this special issue teach valuable lessons based on what happened in New Mexico with the shift to Medicaid managed care. By reframing these lessons in broader historical and cultural terms with reference to aid programs, we have the opportunity to learn a great deal more about the relationship between poverty, public policy, and ideology. Medicaid as a state and federal aid program in the United States and economic development programs as foreign aid provide useful analogies specifically because they exhibit a variety of parallel patterns. The increasing concatenation of corporate interests with state and nongovernmental interests in aid programs is ultimately producing a less centralized system of power and responsibility. This process of decentralization, however, is not undermining the sources of power behind aid efforts, although it does make the connections between intent, planning, and outcome less direct. Ultimately, the devolution of power produces many unintended consequences for aid policy. But it also reinforces the perspective that aid and the need for it are nonpolitical issues.