Cutting Benefits When They’re Needed Most

Three years ago health law scholar John Jacobi warned of “Dangerous Times for Medicaid.” At the time the main threats were ideologically driven; now state budget cuts are doing the damage. As Amy Goldstein notes in the WaPo, the situation is critical:

With revenue falling at the same time that more people are losing their jobs and private health coverage, states already have pared their programs and many are looking at deeper cuts for the coming year. Already, 19 states — including Maryland and Virginia — and the District of Columbia have lowered payments to hospitals and nursing homes, eliminated coverage for some treatments, and forced some recipients out of the insurance program completely.

It’s one more sad example of the procyclical nature of federalism here–states have less tax revenue during recessions, when need is greatest. No one should be surprised if more and more of the newly uninsured jobless, denied even basic dental care due to such cuts, fall into a “death spiral” of unemployment, disfiguring ailments, and a tendency to be underemployed due to such ailments.

PS: The WaPo has a nice Medicaid aggregation page.

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