•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

Medicaid cuts spell death for the poor

Published Oct 26, 2005 10:00 PM

In the British Medical Journal of Oct. 22, David Atkins and Ernest M. Moy of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality write, “The gap in health between white and black Americans has been estimated to cause 84,000 excess deaths a year in the United States, a virtual Katrina every week.... The same factors that placed the poorest residents of New Orleans in harm’s way—unemployment, poverty, neglect of communities, and alienation—contribute to health disparities for poor children and adults and those from minority groups throughout the United States.”

In a government that placed the needs of its people before profits, numbers like these would be a clarion call to ensure that everyone received adequate and effective health care and prevention. The U.S. government, however, is planning the exact opposite.

Florida to cut Medicaid spending

On Oct. 19 the Bush administration approved a plan for Florida that will limit spending for many of the 2.2 million people in that state who use Medicaid, the government’s health care program for the poor. Under the new plan, each recipient must enroll in a private health insurance plan—and if a recipient does not choose one, the state will select one for them.

Florida will then pay a monthly premium to the chosen private plan. However, there will be a ceiling on spending by the state per user—so that if a person’s health expenses were to exceed that limit, s/he could feasibly be charged for any additional services. Private companies will make many of the decisions as to just how much and what kinds of services are provided to individual users.

According to the Oct. 20 New York Times, insurance plans will be allowed to limit “the amount, duration and scope” of services in ways that “current law does not permit.”

The Times reports that other states are already looking towards similar plans for Medicaid in their states. Medicaid serves over 50 million low-income people and is jointly financed by the state and federal governments.

Mandatory health care

In another attack on the many poor living in this country who cannot afford health care—and a boost to the profiteering health care industry—a bill is being written by Massachusetts House lawmakers that would make it mandatory for individuals to purchase health care. According to the Boston Globe, “lawmakers are still settling the details” of this bill—for instance, some politicians say they would like to exclude lower-income people from the requirement, while others, like Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom ney, want to apply the requirement for everyone, and punish those who can’t get insurance with tax penalties and even garnishment of their wages.

Lastly, an article in the Oct. 26 Wall Street Journal tells that both Senate and House Republicans are moving forward with bills that would cut $39 billion and $50 billion, respectively, from health and social service programs. House Repub licans, according to the Times, cite the cost of hurricane relief as the need to cut the budget, thus trying to pit one group of poor people against another.

At the time of this writing, costofwar. com calculates the cost of the Iraq war at $203.6 billion, which is enough to provide a year’s health insurance for almost 122 million children.