A Taste of the Healthcare Future
Quite apart from the question of whether Governor Carcieri’s Medicaid waver plan is the right move for Rhode Island at this time, it certainly provides evidence of the future of government-funded healthcare:
To save $200,000 in the 5 1/2 months remaining in this budget year, the Department of Human Services intends to seek bids to determine where a patient can go for the cheapest non-emergency surgery, a tonsillectomy being just one example cited by DHS Director Gary Alexander yesterday. A hospital? A surgical center? A doctor’s office?
The “selective contracting” of surgical services was just one of several money-saving plans that came to light yesterday after a second day of hearings on legislation to require General Assembly approval before the administration can use its new powers to limit, redesign or raise the patient share of the cost for any medical service covered by Medicaid.
Governor Carcieri is banking on at least $2 million in Medicaid savings this year to help avert a massive state deficit, and Alexander acknowledged this is also hinged on “selective contracting” with companies willing to provide the least expensive prescription drugs and medical equipment; a previously disclosed $10,000 liquid-assets maximum for adults to qualify for the state-subsidized RIte Care health-insurance program, and the “diversion” of 196 nursing home patients to alternative settings.
For some, there’s no thinking beyond the immediate desire to make healthcare “fair”; they’ll turn a blind eye to the water flowing onto the deck as they decry changes to government programs. They’re willing both to let the state sink and to shove greater and greater numbers of the population a lifeboat that’s already proven to have holes (probably because their whining can have some effect on a handful of politicians, whereas the market does what it does).