Bush Tightens Noose on Medicaid

Compassionate conservatism continues its oxymoronic trek through the Bush years:

The Bush administration is imposing restrictions on the ability of states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, in an effort to prevent them from offering coverage to families of modest incomes who, the administration argues, may have access to private health insurance.

The restrictions mirror those the administration placed on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in August after states tried to broaden eligibility for it as well.

Until now, states had generally been free to set their own Medicaid eligibility criteria, and the Bush administration had not openly declared that it would apply the August directive to Medicaid. State officials in Louisiana, Ohio and Oklahoma said they had discovered the administration’s intent in negotiations with the federal government over the last few weeks.

Why would the feds be doing this?

Jeff Nelligan, a spokesman for the Medicaid agency, said Ohio officials “were trying to get around the Aug. 17 [Children’s Health Insurance] policy directive.” Under that policy, states had to enroll 95 percent of eligible children below 200 percent of the federal poverty level before they could expand their programs, a criterion that many state health officials said would be impossible to meet.

Tony Fratto, a spokesman for President Bush, defended the administration’s stance.

“We want states to focus on enrolling their neediest population before they consider expanding Medicaid and CHIP to middle-income families,” Mr. Fratto said. “This policy demonstrates the president’s compassion. He wants to direct scarce tax dollars to those with the greatest needs.”

Compassion for those with the greatest needs indeed. And they would be?

Administration officials say government health programs start to “crowd out” private insurance when they cover families with incomes from 250 percent to 300 percent of the poverty level — about $51,600 to $62,000 for a family of four.

Ah, of course. Can’t be having poor li’l ol’ Wellpoint and Aetna crowded out, can we? What can I possibly say to this? Actually, no one says it better than JKatt, from Chicago, in his on-line comment on this story:

How DARE President Bush, after squeezing healthcare budgets dry, after spending from the Social Security coffers, and especially after espousing unfunded mandates, states’ rights, and all the other Pontious Pilatizing he’s done, to wash the Federal government’s hands of any moral responsibility for healthcare…how DARE he interfere in the states’ attempts to offer humane, compassionate treatment to those of us who’ve been screwed by the insurance establishment, wrung out and hung out to dry by privacy-invading exclusionary clauses (such as definitions of “preexisting condition” that seem to include even THINKING OUT LOUD about particular disorders)…..how DARE he victimize the American people, once again??? The states should and DO have the right to decide who qualifies and who does not qualify, for Medicaid.

I levy the worst possible curse onto that uncaring bastard in the Oval Office, and I only wish that he could experience what the rest of us have to live through: I am 58 years old, have paid into the Social Security system for 40 years, paid endless insurance premiums until 5 years ago (after the insurance carrier-favorable laws of my state reversed benefits paid to my physicians, facilities, rehab centers, etc., and forced me into bankruptcy, and even afterwards, I could not afford insurance) and have now been diagnosed with Cancer, thanks in part to the President’s friend Donald Rumsfeld having rushed Aspertame through its FDA approvals, and causing countless carcinomas to the American people…..if my Medicaid application (submitted 3 months ago, with stil another 3 to 5 months forecasted, before approval, if it ever happens) is declined, I have no way to stay alive.

I wish this plague onto the President, now, so he himself could understand how he’s condemned millions of Americans to death, without due process, without due cause, and without having committed a single crime.

SHAME on you, Mister President…SHAME.

Shame will follow this President, and by extension his political party’s sullied name, into history. But how many JKatt’s have to face down the grim reaper while we wait for change in Washington?

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One response to “Bush Tightens Noose on Medicaid

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