Health Care Cuts- More Governors Hurt the Poor
In my previous posts I reference Gov Rob Blagojevich (say his name bla-GOYA-vich) from Illinois, Gov Tim Caine of Virginia, and former Governors Dr. John Kitzhaber (Oregon) and Richard Lamm from Colorodo as shining lights in an otherwise dark environment.
There is cause for some hope but my partners blog on Stayin Alive last Thursday set my optimism back as did an article I read from the Miami Herald on Sunday. My partner Cervantes reported in his post entitled "Department of How could I have missed this?" that after the vicious cuts last year in Missouri's Medicaid program by Governor Matt Blunt who, as a devout Christian, cited the cuts as "morally correct" based on his belief that taxes should not be raised. Also Cervantes learned that the Missouri legislature under Gov Blunt's leadership also voted to eliminate Medicaid entirely by 2008! What!!!! The "show me state" sure showed us how cruel a Governor could be.
Then I learned on Sunday that in the great state of Tennessee, faced with a $650 million shortfall to pay for his state's Medicaid program, Gov. Phil Bredesen cuts 191,000 low-income people from the struggling health plan.That action and other cost-saving measures outraged advocates nationwide, who accused the Democratic governor and former healthcare executive of endangering the well-being of the state's poorest residents.
Similar criticism has greeted Bredesen's latest move, which is unmatched anywhere in the country: Tennessee is the only state that won't pay to cover a widely used class of anti-seizure medications for 560,000 poor adult Medicaid enrollees. In addition, Tennessee is the only state that won't cover these people for eight other types of drugs -- including fertility and weight-loss medications -- that the federal government allows states to purchase under Medicaid.''This is a public health crisis as far as I'm concerned,'' said Beth Coleman, executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Tennessee in Chattanooga.
Also vulnerable under the coverage ban are poor, mental-health patients who use the drugs to treat depression, anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia and tremors. Benzodiazepines also help control muscle spasms in cerebral palsy sufferers.
Meanwhile back to positive news , former federal Secretary of Health and Human Sevices (HHS) Tommy Thompson made some bold proposals last week in my home town of Philadelphia. "Many businesses provide health benefits, but if businesses want to put a brake on escalating costs, they should advocate for health-care coverage for the uninsured" Thomson told area business leaders at a seminar last week organized by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.
Thompson's proposal: Just as states require automobile insurance, states should require all people to have health insurance, organizing those not covered at work into a group. The state would request bids for a low-cost, no-frills package and then use some earned-income tax credits to bring the cost to an affordable level, subsidizing where necessary.
Finally, the federal government should pass a reinsurance program that would cover bigger losses than usual in a small business' health plan. Minimizing risk would encourage small companies to provide health insurance to their employees, Thompson said.
Well, it seems that former governors and former cabinet members have the luxury of speaking some sense andshowing some much needed compassion on solutions to the health care crises that is denied all but the most courageous sitting pols. I wonder why?