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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Misuse of Medicaid is ruining Missouri

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I write often - perhaps too often - on the Medicaid crisis in Missouri and across the country. I have firm opinions on the Medicaid program and I hope I'm fair enough to spread the blame for the explosion in costs of the low-

income health care program. Medical providers share some of the blame because although they may complain to high heaven, but they still profit from the Medicaid dollars.

But the recipients themselves share some of the blame as well. Those truly in need of medical services should never be denied one ounce of health care. To allow our society to ignore those truly in need is immoral by any definition.

But let's isolate those who cheat the system. Those who shop from one doctor to another to get pain medicine for some mysterious back or neck problem. Those who get the anti-anxiety medicines for their depression or the stress in their lives. These people number in the thousands if not more. Many of their medical needs are self-inflicted. They are related to lifestyle issues that are clearly under their control. And since someone else is paying the bill, they visit the medical facility on a weekly basis. I know this to be fact and can prove it if anyone wants to challenge me.

But here's what makes me sick. The Missouri Budget Project and the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, both advocates for the poor, have released a "survey" showing that Medicaid recipients are going without food in order to pay their medical bills. The same survey says these recipients are cutting back on their utilities to spend money on medications.

This self-serving, bogus survey is an affront to anyone of common sense. Just out of curiosity, who pays the budget for these two organizations? Many Medicaid recipients - but not all - also receive utility assistance, food assistance and housing assistance. That does not apply to all but it certainly does to some. If these groups want to challenge me on this point, bring it on! To announce a phony survey to attack those who want to reduce waste and abuse of the Medicaid program is a disservice to every taxpayer in this state.

Some of the Medicaid reductions in Missouri were wrong. I hope and predict the Legislature will very soon correct this injustice. But in a larger sense, Missouri must address this problem because we currently spend one-third of our state budget on this program alone. Health care for the low-income is measured in the multi-billions of dollars in our small state. That simply cannot continue.

Deborah Scott, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Social Services, hit the nail on the head regarding this survey.

"At best, this appears to be a poorly constructed opinion poll of those that self-selected to complete a biased form to elicit a negative response."

Deborah my dear, I couldn't have said it better!

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen