Item 1: What happened in Tennessee on 10 January.
As reported in the Washington Post:
Tenn.'s Retreat On Medicaid Points to Struggle
Planned Cuts May Signal National Trend
In a nutshell, a Democratic governor who was elected on a platform to "reform" Medicaid, has taken the ax to it in a big way. While he promises to protect kids, he has "announced he is cutting 323,000 low-income adults from the program and limiting services for 400,000 others." There is much more for the interested reader in this article that is directly related to Maryland but we will...
Fast forward to Maryland....
Item 2: While campaigning on a platform of strengthing Medicaid (see the Maryland Health Care for All site here) and stating: "And Maryland's health care for the poor -- once a model for other states -- must be rebuilt and adequately funded." -- Candidate Ehrlich, (on his website), Oct. 2002, ODG has demanded that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene cut 12% of its budget so that the State can balance the 2006 budget as required by law. There is no doubt in my mind that ODG will use the example of Tennessee to press for cuts in all healthcare, including Medicaid, to accomplish this.
Item 3: What's on the table.
Well, just about the whole health program is "on the table." (why isn't the rest of the Maryland government "on the table?" I'll tell you, you can go after Medicaid because children don't vote, and poor people don't stock the campaign chest.)
1. Reduce local Health Care Funds: $7,300,000 (our local Health Department has already been cut to the bone)
2. Eliminate various microbiolgy and other tests: $133,000 (sometimes the state lab is the ONLY place that runs a vital test)
3. Eliminate Chesapeake Bay Tests: $327,000
Eliminate Lead Poisoning Prevention Program: $180,000
(Yessssireee! What's our State doing in Public Health anyway???)
4. Eliminate Medical Day Care: $18,000,000
Eliminate Kidney Disease Program: $10,700,000
Eliminate REM (Rare and Expensive Disease): $3,150,000
Eliminate MCHP Program: $46,959,000
Eliminate coverage for pregnant women over 185%: $3,000,000
(ODG is running for the title of "The Great Eliminator")
And so on..
Let me repeat: The CEO of United HealthCare made $38,000,000 (Yes, that is 38 MILLION) in cash (plus millions more in stock options) in 2002. One man. One of many CEO;'s
Let me repeat: Maryland has spent close to $3,000,000,000 (Yes, that is 3 BILLION)for the War in Iraq; about $530 for every man woman and child.
And to administer the coup de grace (as if anything they did was at all graceful) ODG has hired the man who is responsible for the problem in the first place! As reported in the WaPo last fall, ODG hired S. Anthony McCann to replace Nelson Sabatini, the Secretary of Health since 2002. This guy McCann overseered (and I use that word tightly) the transfer of the Medicaid program to the individual States during the Reagan Administration (1988) where it got farmed out to the MCO's whose CEO's make such small salaries. Damn.
So, tell me Our Dear Gov, why are you trying to balance your budget on the backs of the poor and children?? Didn't I hear the words "Compassionate Conservative" wafting up the Northeast Corridor from the Blanca Casa?
Eh? What did you say? I'm waiting....