What are people to do?

Jan Hudson

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. 

As I ponder this, I am also thinking about the release of the FY2011 Executive Budget Thursday. Will it provide public policy solutions, or simply more budget cuts?
— Jan Hudson
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4 Responses to What are people to do?

  1. Laurie Alderman says:

    Add to this, that basically the state of Michigan stole $2.2 billion out of the Stimulus from Medicaid. The state received a higher share of cost from the feds last year of the cost of Medicaid. This provides $2.2 billion extra in Medicaid funds over the 2 years. Last spring, the state did “creative bookkeeping” and put these monies into the state’s general fund and called the monies “flexible stimulus monies”. Medicaid funds are paying for many parts of the state government’s budgets.

    Then they cut Medicaid services effective July 1st. A developmentally disabled woman died already because of the dental cuts benefits, yet not one word was mentioned of her in the legislature.

    My story is that I was on SSDI, in the two year wait for Medicare. For two years, I was supposed to live on $375 which was my “protected income amount” which is the money after my Medicaid spend-down deductible. But the $375 was actually not protected because of screwed up Michigan policies, and sometimes my income was wiped out for the month with medical bills. As far as access, I was traveling 2 to 5 hours for some specialists while on Medicaid.
    This is despite being ill enough to qualify for SSDI, and being power dependent on medical equipment to survive at night.

    I wrote legislators, and went to Lansing many times to advocate for those on Medicaid. The legislators watched me go bankrupt over the two years. The Freedom to Work legislation for those of us on SSDI was buried in committee when the state stole the Stimulus monies last spring.

    I moved to California in December. I now have no spend-down with the same income as I had in Michigan. This gives me $800 more a month to live on. I received my Medicaid (Medi-Cal) card in two days. I qualify for discount energy costs because I am power dependent on life-support equipment; no program in my area of Michigan had this–I kept telling the Michigan legislators that I was moving in with Jenny if they didn’t do anything…. My advice to anyone in Michigan who is ill or disabled–if you can leave the state if you want to survive.
    Children in the ISD programs I worked in for two years, received hardly any therapies, such as physical therapy. Their bodies are in horrific condition. Eventually, they have contractures throughout their bodies, and then it affects their respiratory muscles, and then at the first good flu, they die. I saw this happen multiple times. I advocated for these children for increased therapies to prevent increased disabilities and to relieve their pains also to not one action or change in the two years I advocated for them. People will protect the status quo no matter who they hurt.

    I’ll keep on the Michigan legislators from here to change, but those on Medicaid in Michigan, and those who love them, need to take action.

  2. Denise Sloan says:

    Thanks, Jan. Powerful blog.

  3. This Blog rocks! I look forward to more, so keep it up!

  4. Priscilla Cheever says:

    Jan,

    Thanks for your continuing advocacy for all of us. I admire your persistence in the face of so much indifference to suffering. I look forward to reading more. PC

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