A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Cold Feet on Medicaid Cuts ... and Let's Talk about Cost Sharing

Cold Feet on Medicaid Cuts ... and Let's Talk about Cost Sharing

April 14, 2005

Count 'em ... 43 US House Republicans (37 of whom voted for last month's budget resolution) have signed a letter urging House budget conferees to include no cuts to Medicaid in the Conference Committee's upcoming budget resolution. Last month, the House voted to include $20 billion in cuts, at least $16 of which would come from Medicaid. The Senate, in a dramatic fight, last month voted 51 to 49 to oppose the same cuts.

While it's gratifying to see a critical mass forming to oppose cuts to the nation's critical health program for poor Americans, it's hard not to catch the whiff of hypocrisy. The day before, all of the 43 voted for permanent elimination of the estate tax, which would drive the nation's economy deeper into economic serfdom. Call me old-fashioned, I remember when fiscal conservatism meant honest budgeting -- now it means cut taxes and damn the consequences.
Everywhere in health care, increased cost sharing is the rage: copays, premiums, and most insidiously, deductibles: not little ones, $1000, $2000, $5000, and even $10,000. Lots of people don't even know they're on the hook until they get sick and the hospital has to deliver the news and collect the damage. The other day, a local physician described her frustrations being left on the hook for much of this cost sharing, and seeing lots of patients with no ability to pay. We're kicking off a process to get to the real story behind today's cost sharing nightmares and invite you to participate. Please use the form below to send us anecdotes, stories, impressions, insights or whatever. This is just the start.