Friday, February 17, 2012

Can We Afford To Cut Medicaid?

It’s a hot-button issue, with passionate opinions and research on both sides: Will Medicaid budget cuts be the solution to the nation’s healthcare cost problem? In our last blog, we introduced the reasons behind the sudden interest in Medicaid, and hinted that we’d be spending more time investigating the most significant arguments on either side. Today, we’ll do just that, and then put the question to you.

Those in Favor: Cut Medicaid, or risk everything.

The state of Illinois is being elevated to the top of the Medicaid debate, with Governor Pat Quinn suggesting a drastic $2.7 Billion cut to the program this budget year. It seems like a dramatic gesture, but in thisDaily Herald interview, Quinn argues that the alternatives are far worse.

Aides say Quinn will suggest trimming projected Medicaid spending by $2.7 billion in the budget year that starts July 1. If they don't, aides warn, a backlog of unpaid bills that already stands at $1.9 billion will grow so large that doctors, hospitals and pharmacies may cut off services because the state can't pay for them.

"This is not something that we can blithely delay for another year," said Michael Gelder, Quinn's senior health care policy adviser. "We really fear the collapse of the program if that accounts payable balance grows by another penny."

Among the budget cuts are reduced payment rates for doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies, as well as more uniform health coverage, such as limiting eyeglass replacement to once a year.

Those Opposed: Don’t put our well-being at risk.

For many Medicaid-dependent families in the United States, the idea of budget cuts is a living nightmare. “The reality is that as hospitals would be forced to lay off staff, patients would face longer wait times and distances to receive intensive care as well as cutbacks in services,” says Parish Medical Center’s George Mikitarian. “We know this from experience, since last year, $500 million in Medicaid cuts led to major job cuts, with many hospitals reducing access to primary-care clinics, OB/GYN services, skilled nursing units and outpatient chemotherapy services.”

Several activist groups have formed in Florida, where citizens fear their family doctors will be pushed out of the state in search of better payments. Florida’s proposed budget cuts were inspired by a $2 Billion loss in revenue, leaving the state unable to pay healthcare costs.

So we are left with an unpleasant situation. Regardless of the final decisions made, someone will be losing out. The question is, which solution will result in the best opportunities for the citizens of the country? Tell us your opinion in the comments below.


Pam Argeris is a thought leader in the Healthcare Industry and possesses extensive, hands-on experience with CMS compliance, and multiple regulatory bodies such as NCQA, JACHO, and DOI. In her role at Merrill Corp., Pam focuses on developing solutions for compliance and quality assurance, delivered in a cost effective manner to improve beneficiary and prospect communications. You can contact Pam at

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