Happy New Year...
...from Jane Swift and the Unemployment Office
From yesterday's Boston Globe ("$11m Medicaid cut takes effect today"):
The state will stop paying for artificial limbs, dentures, and eyeglasses for nearly half a million residents today in the most far-reaching reduction in medical care for the poor in more than a decade. Acting Governor Jane Swift mandated the $11.4 million cut in Medicaid, the program for low-income and disabled residents that is also called MassHealth, as part of her effort last fall to balance the state budget.As someone who couldn't function at all without her eyeglasses, I would like to suggest that this is a REALLY BAD IDEA.To continue:
With hospitals and clinics already overburdened, doctors predict that thousands of patients will go without medically necessary equipment and might end up costing the state more as they become sicker and more disabled. At least 110,000 people tapped Medicaid funds to pay for prosthetics, dentures, and eyeglasses in fiscal 2001.And in another cheery New Year's greeting, this time from the federal government, almost a million jobless people are going have a hard time paying the rent and/or eating. From the AP:
''It's a catastrophe in terms of patient health,'' said Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, executive director of the Urban Medical Group in Jamaica Plain. ''If you can't afford a prosthetic device, you're stuck in a wheelchair. If you can't get your dentures, you're at a greater risk of malnutrition, skin ulcers, and death.''
Faced with the cuts, Medicaid recipient Dalila Rabhi, 41, is worried about losing her independence and becoming more reliant on state aid. She lost her leg below the knee in a train accident and depends on an artificial leg to get to classes at Bunker Hill Community College that she hopes will lead to a job as a medical assistant. If her prosthesis, which cost thousands of dollars, needs repair or replacement, she doesn't know where she'll turn.
''I understand they have a problem with the money,'' said Rabhi, who lives in Revere. ''But this isn't like plastic surgery - it's a need. With the prosthetic, you can be independent. You can help society. But if you don't have a prosthetic, you become disabled and you need physical therapy, medical care, psychological care, and even a person to give you a bath. It would stop my life.''
Already facing a sputtering economy and slow hiring, nearly 800,000 unemployed Americans face a new woe Saturday when their federal unemployment benefits end.What fun. Anyway, I'm back, but blogging may be light as I am writing my last four papers (classes are over but now I have exams and final papers, etc). One of them, on black/white interracial marriage in 1880s Boston (which was more common then than it is now, actually), should be pretty interesting and I may quote some of it here.
Democrats and labor unions, sensing political opportunity, are blaming the cuts on President Bush and Republicans in Congress. Bush, in a late show of support for an extension, urged Congress last week to get it done when lawmakers return to work next month.
"Regrettably, the House Republican leadership turned their backs on these families and refused to act, and the administration chose not to intervene before Congress adjourned," Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle said Friday. "This inaction by Republicans was unconscionable then and it is even more so now."
Congress left for the year without extending the federal benefits, meaning that 750,000 to 800,000 unemployed workers will get cut off Saturday. Another 95,000 jobless workers will exhaust their state benefits each week afterward. Already, 1 million people have exhausted all of their benefits.