The Sick Politics of Health

In a country with wealth beyond most people’s dreams, it is a crime that so many people are sick and without healthcare.  I don’t even know where to start to explain how upset this makes me.  To make things worse the less power you have in the society the less likely you are to have the care you need.  This means the individuals that need care the most are the least likely to get it.   This includes children, the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled, the chronically ill, those with learning disabilities, drug addictions, physical disabilities and the elderly. Not to mention the socioeconomic division between wealth and poverty. The list goes on long enough to make one realize that we are not talking about a minority of people, but instead a majority. Please do what you can to be informed and to advocate for access to health for everyone.

Below you find an overview of some related articles, overviews supplied by Mental Health in the Headlines which is a weekly newsletter produced by Mental Health America:

Services Facing Cuts despite Rise in Number of Beneficiaries: States are cutting Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals, limiting benefits for Medicaid recipients, reducing the scope of covered services, requiring beneficiaries to pay larger co-payments and expanding the use of managed care. The moves come as $90 billion in extra funds originally authorized in stimulus legislation will run out in July. At the same time, the number of beneficiaries is higher now than when Congress approved the aid. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that federal Medicaid spending will decline in 2012 for only the second time in the 46-year history of the program. The cuts are likely to increase costs in other parts of the health care system. Doctors will be less likely to accept Medicaid patients if they receive lower payments, which will cause people to turn to hospital emergency rooms for care. Hospitals and other health care providers often try to make up for the loss of Medicaid revenue by increasing charges to other patients, including those with private insurance, experts say. (The New York Times, 6/15/11)

Better Medicaid Coordination Would Cut Costs: Health policy experts say one of the best ways to reduce costs for Medicaid without sacrificing care would be better care coordination for “dual eligibles.” These are the people who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid because they require hospital and long-term care. Although they represent only 15 percent of Medicaid’s beneficiaries, they account for 40 percent of the program’s spending. If their cases were coordinated better, costs would be reduced and people would be healthier. But enacting better care coordination can be difficult. (The Washington Post, 6/16/11)

Children on Medicaid More Likely to Wait for Care: Children on Medicaid are much more likely than kids with private health insurance to be denied appointments with medical specialists and wait longer on average to be seen, according to a new study.  Research assistants posing as mothers of sick children called to make appointments for specialty care at 273 clinics in Cook County, Illinois, one month apart. In one call, they told the clinic they had public insurance. In the other, they said they were privately insured. Two-thirds of fictitious Medicaid patients were denied appointments compared to 11 percent of privately insured patients, researchers reported in New England Journal of Medicine. In 89 clinics that accepted both types of insurance, children with public insurance also waited 22 days longer on average for an appointment with a specialist. And in more than half of the phone calls, the caller was asked what kind of insurance their child had before an appointment could be scheduled. Low reimbursement rates, payment delays and hassles associated with the payment process were cited by the study’s authors as likely reasons for doctors’ reluctance to see Medicaid patients. (The New York Times, 6/15/11)

Published in: on June 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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