In today’s Decatur Daily, there is an article entitled ‘Voters may decide Medicaid funding’, in which we are told that ‘the proposed Senate version (of the budget) allocates $418 million to Medicaid and is dependent on voters approving in November a constitutional amendment to allow the state’s Education Trust Fund to pay about $184 million a year for three years to Medicaid.’ (1)
So we voters will be faced with a stark, double-edged sword of a choice in November. Either vote to remove hundreds of millions of dollars from the future education budget of this state’s children, or de-fund a program that ‘is the foundation on which we build health care in this state’, according to Dr. Don Williamson, who is leading the state’s Medicaid agency (1). Dr Williamson goes on to state that ‘(he) thinks there’s a high chance we are going to get sued in federal court (for the lack of basic care)’, and that ’43 percent of all Alabama children are insured by Medicaid’, and that ‘it will only get worse, especially in rural areas. “You’re going to lose doctors, you’re going to lose hospitals, you are going to lose nursing homes…”’
Also, if I may interject a brief economic lesson, cutting Medicaid funding is NOT a cost saving measure in the long term, either financially or in terms of human suffering. As I stated in a prior paper, people will end up in emergency rooms, at a cost of thousands of dollars per visit that they are unlikely to be able to afford to pay, for want of the basic preventive care afforded by Medicaid. This only SHIFTS and INCREASES the costs, not decreases it. In extreme cases, such as with the proposal to limit Medicaid reimbursement to 4 medications (3), people will have to prioritize their physical and mental illnesses to see which they are most able to withstand without dying or winding up in a mental institution. Someone even mentioned Medicaid funding being cut or removed for dialysis patients. That would only mean a slow-to-moderate length agonizing death for the affected patients.