Breaking the system: Budget battles gut healthcare for most vulnerable
Even as the White House touts the Affordable Care Act’s successful coverage of nearly 20 million people, residents across the country are struggling to access and afford healthcare and social service programs.
State legislatures are seeing shrinking revenue because of tax cuts and low energy prices. North Dakota and Texas, which rely on oil tax revenue, are facing huge budget shortfalls.
Jesse Cross-Call, a policy analyst for the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said Medicaid, a large part of most state budgets, is one of the first places to make cuts. But Medicaid is a blunt instrument, he said.
Now, after years of threatening to do so, health and social service programs are cutting services or folding outright. Medicaid programs are seeing monthslong delays in approving beneficiaries.
Doctors in Oklahoma will see cuts to Medicaid provider rates in June. Kansas residents must wait months for Medicaid approval. Connecticut has suspended about $140 million in payments to acute-care hospitals. The state hospital association said the move is “breaking the healthcare system.”
Some of the states affected already rank in the bottom half for overall health, with Oklahoma and Louisiana among the worst five states, according to America’s Health Rankings. So how is this playing out, where and why?
Protesters rally in support of lawmakers ending the state budget impasse at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield.