Budget Cuts and Medical Care

In a press release dated November 23, 2010, Dr. Alfredo Vigil, Secretary of Health for New Mexico, announced an 8% cut to the annual budgets of the 3,700 recipients of Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program.  There will also be a 5% rate reduction for all providers in this program.  Most significantly, Dr. Vigil stated that no more families will be admitted to the DD Waiver Program in New Mexico.  There are currently 5,100 people on a waiting list.  It is projected that this will save almost $5.4 million in this fiscal year.  To be eligible for this program, one must have become developmentally disabled before the age of 22.  This program serves folks who have been disabled all of their lives, and who will never not be disabled.

In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer has announced that Medicaid will no longer pay for transplants of the heart, liver, lung, pancreas or bone marrow.  So if you are poor in Arizona, and a transplant will save your life, forget it.  Arizona is the only state that has determined that saving money is better than saving your life, if you are on Medicaid.  Arizona is also the only state to attempt to eliminate the Children’s Health Insurance Program which affects 47,000 children of working class parents.  The legislature did not carry this plan forward, fearing that it might lose billions of other dollars in matching funds.

While Congress debates whether or not to raise income taxes for folks who can afford to pay out of their own pockets for these types of services, states are being forced to cut services for the millions of people who cannot afford and desperately need these services.  Why is it unfair, or bad for the economy, to ask those who have more money to pay a little more so that the government can maintain services for those who have much much less.  The economic disparity between the very rich and the rest of us in the United States is the highest it has ever been and is also the highest for any country in the world.  Should we be proud to live in a country that creates a group of people who have made more money in the past two years than ever before, and then reward them with a tax break as well, while at the same time forcing states to reduce or stop entirely services to those who through no fault of their own are disabled?