Medicaid cuts have real pain
SouthtownStar editorial June 15, 2012 10:04PM
Updated: July 18, 2012 6:38AM
When politicians self-celebrate the enactment of new laws they think are wonderful, the bill-signing room is filled with smiling faces ready to pick up a ceremonial pen.
When politicians hate the law they just passed, they hide like bats in a cave. In case they are completely full of beans about their cheery public relations, at least there will be minimal evidence they were part of the event.
If you want to know what state leaders actually think about the $1.6 billion state Medicaid cut they passed and Gov. Pat Quinn signed Thursday, try to find a photo of the signing.
Quinn was in Peoria on Thursday to celebrate Flag Day. It was good camouflage on a day when he also signed the most sweeping state reduction in health care for the state’s poor in 40 years.
Yes, we all must be grown-ups and admit that something had to be done about the financial leak poked in the Medicaid dinghy. But there is no need — and almost no evidence — to assume that cutting health benefits for the state’s poor will actually “save” anything.
Subsidizing adult podiatry, chiropractic care and eyeglasses likely were extravagances that would always be doomed to removal. And making smokers pay $1 more per pack is always a safe moralistic way to balance the budget.
But yanking 25,000 poor families — and particularly their children — away from access to free health care does not save money in the long run. Every provider of such care insists that poor parents and their children still will get sick; they still will take those ailments to hospital emergency rooms and they will be sicker when a doctor finally sees them.
American medical care is commerce premised on shifting costs from those who can’t pay to those who can. By saving the money in Medicaid now, the state merely moves the bill to later.
On July 1, a family of four that makes more than $30,660 per year would lose its coverage. That’s why state politicians were hiding in their caves last week.