Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Potential cuts

I received an email last week from one of the people on the Board of Directors for my local NAMI affiliate regarding potential cuts to Medicaid. The hope is that they can cut $2.7 billion from the program. One of the attachments to the email was a line item breakdown that the Department of Healthcare and Family Services provided to members of the legislative committee working on the task of where to cut services. Supposedly this is just a list of "possible" places where savings could be made, but the list scares the crap out of me.

Some of the line items that directly effect me include:

  1. Bringing eligibility for Family Care down to 133% of the federal poverty level. If brought down to 133%, I would effectively lose the secondary Medicaid insurance that covers whatever Medicare doesn't.
  2. Eliminate IL Care Rx which is the program that pays my premiums and provides co-pay support for my medications.
  3. Eliminate all Adult Pharmaceuticals, which for me means I won't be able to get any medications for my anxiety because Medicare does not cover benzodiazepines.

If I lose my Family Care coverage and the IL Care Rx, there is no way I will be able to afford any medical care, be it physical or mental. I don't receive enough money from Social Security to pay the premiums for both Medicare Part B and the premium for Medicare Part D (the prescription plan). Even if I could afford the premiums, there is no way I could afford to pay the 20% co-insurance for physical health and the 45% for mental health that Medicare doesn't cover.

In addition to those items, there is another line item that has me concerned. It's under the section of items that can be eliminated and it says it's for "Institutes for Mental Disease" and the cost savings would be $130 million. No one from NAMI knows what this line item is for, but given how much the budgets to mental health providers has been decimated by our state, I can't help but be alarmed by it. I keep wondering if that is to shutter all state mental hospitals.

There are items on the list that I have no problem with them cutting or eliminating, especially the ones that pay for the medical care of illegal immigrants. Sorry but I stand with the Republicans on this issue. They became criminals once they crossed the border into our country, we shouldn't be rewarding them with free healthcare and free education.

I just hope the General Assembly uses some common sense when deciding where to slash the Medicaid budget. I know changes and cuts need to be made, but they can't do something like eliminate all prescriptions drugs for adults. If people are poor enough to be on Medicaid, there's no way they're going to be able to afford to buy the medications themselves and it will just cost the state more in the long run when people end up in the hospital. I think it would be far more prudent to cut a little bit from every area, so no one service has to bear the brunt of the cuts.

Here's a thought if they really want to make some significant, cost-saving changes to Medicaid...maybe they should try and limit the number of years you're allowed to be it, unless you're elderly or disabled. We have generation after generation of able-bodied people staying on welfare and Medicaid because there is no incentive for them to work. All the baby mommas just sit around getting their nails done and popping out kid after kid. The baby daddys are never held accountable for their kids so the taxpayers end up with the burden. Make the benefits more temporary, like unemployment, so people realize they need to get their asses off the couch.

Ok, sorry, I hopped up on my soap box. I'm stepping down now.


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