Dear Mr. Jensen,
Our family's knew each other when we lived in Sikeston so I know that you are not a racist but I am surprised by the shortsighted approach that you promote to fix the Missouri Medicaid system. As someone FORCED into this system by our state's insurance laws at the age of 27 when I became disabled due to ALS and the state allowed my health insurance to drop me which has made me dependent on Medicare and Medicaid therefore I have become VERY knowledgeable on what's wrong with our Medicaid system.
First, I totally agree that the system needs dramatic reform but as currently proposed this will not be achieved and in some ways it will end up costing more. The current proposal saves over $300 million however it gives back the federal government $700 million which I am sure other states will love to get.
For example, one excellent program that is being eliminated is one that allows disabled people to work while maintaining their health coverage. The problem with it is that a loophole allowed people to abuse this program by qualifying for it even if they only worked a few hours a month. Instead of closing this loophole by simply raising the amount that you must work to a much higher level, they have totally eliminated it which will force those who legitimately used this program to quit working because their health care costs would not be covered.
How could these changes cost more? As currently proposed, it will force people with legitimate claims into nursing homes or they will forgo less expensive preventative treatment and end up being hospitalized with much more complex problems which both of these are more expensive than the current system.
Here's the kicker, not one change currently proposed will address what you recognize in your column which is abuse of Medicaid but it will eliminate people with totally legitimate reasons for needing Medicaid. Now there are some changes that could address your concerns:
1) Make a new department who's sole purpose is to root out corruption by both doctors and recipients as well as offering rewards or encouragement to turn in people abusing Medicaid.
2) Make it more difficult to qualify for especially for conditions that are commonly used to abuse the system. This can be achieved easily by having any diagnosis verified by a randomly selected doctor provided by Social Services and emergency situations could be randomly reviewed for any problems.
3) Speak with legitimate patients and doctors within the system because we know where the major waste is occurring within Medicaid. For instance, two years ago I was hospitalized with a severe lung infection and because I am on a ventilator I had to be in the ICU so instead of stabilizing my condition and sending me home on IV antibiotics for a total cost around $5,000, I had to stay in the ICU for two weeks because of the bureaucracy involved in my qualifying for Medicaid spend down so the total cost was well over $50,000 which was extremely unnecessary.
Yes I agree with you Medicaid should be reformed but the current proposal does nothing to stop the abuse you write about rather it punishes those in legitimate need and in the long run could actually lead to increased costs for Missouri.
Ellisville, Missouri (formerly of Sikeston)
You have spoken and written before on the much belabored Social Security issues and how it is being handled by our politicians, both Democrats and Republicans. But there seems to be never a solution. More has come out recently that I am writing to let you and your public know about. Here it is! Alert!!
How much of your own Social Security benefits are you willing to give to an illegal alien from Mexico?
Right now, the Social Security Administration is holding high-level talks with Mexican government officials.
They plan to pay Social Security benefits to illegal aliens from Mexico, directly from your Social Security Trust Fund.
The "Washington Post" was first to reveal this scandal. The story gets worse and worse as more details emerge.
High-level U.S. and Mexican officials have already held several meetings since November 2001. They insist these meetings are "informal" and "preliminary."
But an internal Social Security Administration memo obtained by the Washington Post says the agreement, "is expected to move forward at an accelerated pace" with the support of both governments and could be in force any day now.
One U.S. State Department official even confessed, "The staffing and budget implications haven't been fully worked out but we're thinking about it."
In fact, the State Department plans to build an entirely new building in the U.S. embassy complex in Mexico City just to deal with the crush of Mexican citizens expected to apply for Social Security benefits there.
As reported by the Washington Post, there's no doubt this plan will put tens of thousands of Mexicans onto the Social Security roster and send hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits south of the border.
And an independent research group goes further to warn the government's figures "seriously underestimate the number of Mexicans who would seek Social Security benefits."
Now, please remember, I'm not talking about American citizens who came here legally from Mexico, or who are descendants from Mexican immigrants, and who paid into Social Security during their working lives.
Instead, this plan will give Social Security benefits to Mexican citizens, including illegal aliens.
This disastrous plan endangers the retirement security you and I have earned through a life time of hard work.
Did the bureaucrats forget that senior citizens pay taxes, too?
Did the politicians forget that senior citizens also vote?
And now they tell us - with a straight face - that they want to take a billion dollars from Social Security and pay it to non-U.S. citizens.
I don't believe you have to be "scared" into taking action when an issue clearly effects your own retirement security but we as voters must act now.
Handing out Social Security benefits to non-U.S. citizens who live in other countries is just plain crazy.
And you and I must remind the politicians we elected to represent us in Washington, D.C. that senior citizens will not let them get away with this vote-buying scheme. Because you and I both know that the politicians are doing this to attract the "Hispanic vote."
But you and I can't let them buy votes with our Social Security money - paid for with our tax dollars over a lifetime of hard work.
This fight to protect Social Security caught us by surprise. For the last two years, the bureaucrats at the Social Security Administration worked silently behind the scenes and now we discover this "benefit scandal."
I urge everyone, retired or working, that's paying into the system, call your senators - Bond and Talent - and your congressman - Emerson - and your representative for your individual district.
Financial Debt counselor