Friday, October 31, 2008

Safety Nets with Holes?

Not good news.
And yet, when one takes a more focused look at the facts, it's not clear that this is a "bad thing." The program most "at risk" is Medicaid, a cooperative venture between the states and the Feds. Medicaid provides funds for health insurance for some 50 million of our fellow citizens (not to mention a few non-citizens). For many of those states, it also represents almost half of their annual budgets. Cutting these expenses is one way for these states to more easily bring their own numbers into line.
So what Medicaid programs are being tossed?
■ Well, as we reported a few weeks ago, Hawaii's well-meaning but poorly executed plan to cover its uninsured children. As Bob noted at the time, "they must rely on taxes to support the system...Medicaid is available for a family earning $73k? I guess Hawaii has a different definition of poor."
■ In South Carolina, they're considering major cuts in funding for mental health coverage. My question would be, if the gummint thinks it shouldn't have to pay for this, why does it mandate such coverage for commercial insurance policies?
■ This past July, California slashed hospital reimbursements by 10%. As a result, Jan Emerson of the California Hospital Association believes that more hospitals will choose to opt out of the program. So what happens when we have nationalized health care, and the Feds slash reimbursement by 10% (or more)? How do providers drop out of that?
■ The Bay State, subject of quite a few posts here, cut almost $300 million from its Medicaid budget; that included some $40 million that was earmarked for the Cambridge Health Alliance, which provides care low-income residents. How much money were they already throwing at these programs, if they can cut $300 million?
Inquiring minds want to know.
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