MY WORD: Cutting Medicaid is no place to start with state budget

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By Jean A. Stodghill

I am writing to express my disappointment in local politicians for supporting the proposed 35 percent, across-the-boards reduction in Kentucky Medicaid services. Do they fully understand the impact this would have on our most frail and vulnerable population?

I am a family nurse practitioner who works primarily with medically underserved populations. Currently about 50 percent of my practice at a federally funded family health care center in Spencer County is covered by Medicaid (Passport). I have many who drive from surrounding counties because local private physicians either do not accept or must limit the number of Medicaid (Passport) patients in their practice.

The reason for this is the comparatively, extremely low reimbursement for services rendered under Medicaid (Passport).

For medical specialties such as orthopedics, neurology, pain management, physical therapy and dermatology, it is much harder to find a provider who will accept Medicaid patients. These patients may have to travel as much as 50 miles for these services and wait months for appointments. This has created a wide gap in care for Medicaid recipients and hence large disparities in health care under the present system.

The proposed 35 percent cuts included a 5-page recount of all services offered to Medicaid recipients, including, to mention a few: provider reimbursements, durable medical equipment, medications, wound care, home health, emergency services and hospital services.

It would have rendered Medicaid worthless because no provider would be able to stay afloat financially by seeing Medicaid patients. It would have added to the already tremendous barrier to health-care services for those living at or under the poverty level and increase the disparities already keenly felt by this fragile population.  

Clearly the budget needs to be balanced for our future generations, but we cannot morally or economically support cuts that start first by taking from those who have so little. We should not start at the bottom of the political food chain.

We have kept the unfair tax advantages of the very wealthy as sacred cows. Drug manufacturing companies, gas companies and health insurance companies make more contributions to political parties and lobbyists in one year than our entire state budget.

This might be a better place to start.

My suggestion to maintain financial stability in an uncertain economy is for the political minded to lead by example. They should be the first to vote themselves a 35 percent salary and budget reduction. Then maybe state Sen. David Williams, who wishes to establish himself as a moral man, can reimburse the taxpayers of Kentucky for the $1 million bill for the special legislative session conducted because of his political drama.

It should be no problem to raise this from the campaign contributions in his race for governor.  

I leave you with a quote from a very wise man:

“Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who help the poor honor Him.” Proverbs 14:31


Jean A. Stodghill, MSN, APRN, is employed at Park Duvalle Community Healthcare Center in Taylorsville. She resides in Shelbyville.