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July 20, 2005

$342/mo. with three kids = not eligible for Medicaid

-- by Thomas Leavitt

My Mom's from rural Missouri, so I get the Ozark's Newsstand in my email inbox... this article caught my attention this morning: Polk County families lose Medicaid coverage due to state budget cuts.
Clearly, at least some of the folks in the Red States are following the money.

The woman featured in the story just lost her Medicaid eligibility a couple of months ago, and now her three children are losing theirs. Budget cuts - state doesn't want to raise taxes. She makes too much money. How much is too much? $342/mo.

... maybe my perspective is a little bit distorted, living here in Santa Cruz, where that won't even pay for the rent on an unconverted chicken coop, but how in the hell is anyone supposed to survive on less than that?!? With three children?!?

How is someone who earns $350/mo. supposed to afford medical care? Where are they supposed to come up with the money for a doctor visit... as a parent, I know my two kids can easily ring up half a dozen visits to the doctor inside of a single month. Three kids? You could easily spend $350/mo. just paying for doctor visits and associated lab fees - not counting medications, trauma care, or serious/long term medical issues.

Of course, the state (and the Feds too, I guess) don't really care that all they are doing with these changes is shifting the costs - monetarily, onto the pocketbooks of hospitals, private sector insurance companies, and self-insured patients. Shifting money from low cost, pre-emptive/preventive/early stage care to expensive emergency room trauma care.

But more importantly, shifting the costs to the bodies and well being of the working poor - and their children. Your kid falls out of a tree and wacks her arm on something, then complains loudly about it hurting... 9 times out of 10, it is nothing and will go away overnight - but you go to the doctor anyway, just in case - but what if you don't have the dough? Well, she either suffers for a day or two until you become convinced that she has to go to the doctor (most likely the emergency room), or you go to the emergency room right away... well geez, there goes your "savings" in the Medicaid budget for the year.

Problem ain't that bad... child just acting not too peppy and whining about this and that unspecific problem? Take her to the doctor - hmm, there's a low grade sinus infection. Or not, if you don't have the money... that's Republican cost shifting for you: onto the bodies and well being of the children, who have no ability to help themselves, and really shouldn't be held responsible for their parent's inadequacies.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at July 20, 2005 10:00 AM

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