Reforming Medicaid Should Not Mean Cutting Medicaid 04/11/2005
I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”
In the construction business, the old adage is to measure twice, cut once. The same principle applies to Medicaid cuts, which again are on the chopping block in Washington and Austin.
What legislators must understand is that simply cutting Medicaid spending is not going to make the problem go away. As we’ve seen with previous reductions – most notably in the state Children’s Health Insurance Program last year – federal and state cuts push more responsibility to the local level and nothing really changes. People still get sick and injured, and children still need health care – whether they can pay for it or not.
Communities should share responsibility for indigent health care, but this is not just a local issue. In fact, since 1998, Texas has left $772 million in federal matching funds on the table because of state cuts in CHIP and Medicaid. While it makes sense to be fiscally conservative, it’s important to use our money in the most effective ways possible.
That’s why I urge all Texans to support the restoration of Medicaid and CHIP cuts at the state level, and the creation of a bipartisan commission in Washington to study Medicaid.
While we can all agree that changes are needed, now is not the time – with Texas leading the nation in the number of uninsured – to cut first and ask questions later.
For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.