With the devastating cuts in the FY2010 Department of Community Health budget, I’m wondering, what are people to do?
What are Medicaid recipients, who can’t find a doctor or other provider because of the 8 percent cut in Medicaid payments, supposed to do? What are pregnant Medicaid recipients supposed to do when they need dental care to try to give their babies a healthy start, but find that Medicaid adult dental benefits are eliminated?
What are adult Medicaid diabetics who need routine eye and foot care to successfully manage their disease supposed to do, as those benefits are eliminated? (See the results here but a warning — these pictures of untreated conditions are graphic.)
What are families in crisis due to unemployment or home foreclosure supposed to do when public mental health services are reduced by $40 million, so services are not available? What are local health departments supposed to do when H1N1 or other critical public health issues are raging in their communities, but their funding is cut?
I have heard no policymaker provide solutions to the dilemmas caused for Medicaid recipients and other low-income residents as critical public services provided by the Department of Community Health are reduced or eliminated.
I have heard how some people are coping – one woman, with a dental infection, was told by an urgent care facility to be careful not to contract a cold or flu at this time of year, while she waits three months for an appointment at a free dental clinic to treat her infected tooth. Hopefully, she won’t be hospitalized with something more serious before her appointment. I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others in similar circumstances.
A recent NY Times article reported the results of a poll on the trauma of being unemployed. Almost half of the respondents reported suffering from anxiety or depression, with a quarter of them seeking help from a mental health professional.
With the cut in mental health funding, it is questionable whether services will be available in Michigan, the state with highest unemployment rate in the country, to help these residents deal with their financial stress and emotional issues related to being unemployed.
If reliance on the hospital emergency room is the option that policymakers would provide, then these program cuts, rather than “saving” state dollars, will in fact cost more. If the solution is not to seek treatment, that’s inhumane.
As a nonprofit focusing on human services, the League is very concerned about the options available to low-income families and individuals to deal with what, in every other industrialized nation, is a basic right.
We believe the federally defined optional services must be restored, and there are many options available to policymakers to provide the needed revenues to restore these services.
A few examples are available in our Facts Matter publication.