Caution: The following information may drastically increase your blood pressure, may cause you substantial irritation and may leave you sick at your stomach. You have been warned.
For the first time in history, spending on Medicaid - the federal/state health care program for the poor - will exceed spending on all public education from kindergarten to graduation. In Missouri alone, 30.7 percent of all your tax dollars goes to providing health care for the poor while just 24.4 percent of your taxes goes to educate the children of this state.
Something is drastically wrong with this!
We can only hope and pray the Republican legislature will address and offer substantial changes in the funding for Medicaid. If changes don't occur, spending on health care for the poor will break the back of this state and nation. And in the meantime, the education of our children will be shortchanged. You can only imagine the long-term implications of this cockeyed spending.
Medicaid officials blame the rising cost of health care for the escalating spending. In fact, they say Medicaid expenses will grow by 12 percent in the coming year alone. At the same time, as you are aware, we're trying to find ways to reduce costs in education. How stupid can we get?
I'll accept the fact that some of the runaway health care spending is because of increased costs. But let's be honest. Much of the Medicaid problem is because the recipients have no motivation to reduce health care spending because they aren't paying a dime for it. And thus, every perceived ailment brings them to a health care provider. To compound the problem, many of the health care issues of the Medicaid recipients are self-inflicted - obesity, smoking, alcohol, drugs, no prenatal care, etc. And yet you and I are expected to pay for every single time the Medicaid recipients visit a physician and visit a pharmacist.
The day will come - if it hasn't already - when Medicaid recipients have a higher level of health care than hard-working Missourians who provide their own health care insurance.
It's beyond imagination that we take money away from our kid's education to funnel money into the health care needs of those unable or unwilling to provide for themselves. In the 40 year history of Medicaid, this year will mark the first time nationally that we spend more on the needs of the poor than the educational needs of our children.
Your tax dollars provided $4.5 BILLION in medical care for the poor last year alone. And that's just in our home state.
We must begin restricting Medicaid benefits. But we must address not the MC+ program for children, we must address the adults who abuse the system. I know for fact and I'll be glad to cite examples of Medicaid recipients who cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and yet are willing and able to work (for cash, of course) at the drop of a hat. This is wrong. And we're wrong to allow it to continue.
Start by putting some of the burden on the medical community. They know if someone is truly in need of medical care or if the free service is just a crutch and an excuse. Then start jailing those guilty of Medicaid fraud. I'm sick of hearing about the massive numbers of pain killers we taxpayers are funding for the millions of "back problems" that seem to exist in our society. It's a scam and we all know it.
Medicaid is essential to some and it must survive. But the abusers are going to kill this program for those truly in need because otherwise our children will suffer for generations to come.
We're looking at the Missouri legislature to address this problem as a priority starting in January. It's time to quit talking and start walking.