More Cuts in Health Care

January 21, 2003

During this year, 49 states and the District of Columbia will cut back on Medicaid, the health care program for low-income people.

According to a report published by the Kaiser Foundation, 25 states are reducing Medicaid services such as hearing aids, physical therapy, dental, eye care, etc. In addition, 27 states are restricting eligibility and throwing people off Medicaid rolls; 17 states are increasing co-payments for recipients; 45 states are cutting back on prescription medicines; and 37 states are freezing or cutting payments to health care providers.

The cutbacks will affect some 40 million people, including as many as 2 million who will lose all coverage. This year's cuts come after many states had already made major cutbacks over the last 2 years. Medicaid financing is divided between federal and states governments and today, while the federal government refuses to increase Medicaid spending, states are choosing to cut these programs in order to balance their budgets. In addition to Medicaid cuts, 17 states will reduce spending on long-term care both in nursing homes and community-based settings. Other states are also slashing funds for the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Some of the cutbacks which are being implemented or proposed include:

- Nebraska: at least 16,000 children and 12,000 adults are being removed from the Medicaid rolls.

- Washington: hearing, vision and dental coverage for adults has been eliminated and 60,000 low-income adults have been cut off of the state's Basic Health Plan.

- Tennessee: as many as 250,000 people will lose Medicaid coverage.

- New Jersey has eliminated coverage for many low-income parents.

- In California, the Governor's proposal would throw 500,000 low-income parents off Medicaid.

These cuts are coming while the recession is undermining the livelihood of millions and health care costs keep skyrocketing. Our health care system is failing to meet the needs of the people and the government - rather than helping in these times of hardships - is making things worse.