|Gov. Matt Blunt has proposed that the State of Missouri reduce income limits for those individuals who receive or could receive Medicaid. Medicaid is a health-care program for the blind, poor families with children, some elderly adults, and the disabled. Under the proposed changes a working family of four that makes more than $5,655 a year (about $471 a month) would not be eligible to receive Medicaid (Springfield News Leader, 01/28/05).
During the Governor's campaign he declared, "I'm opposed to changing eligibility requirements." The St. Louis Post-Dispatch described Blunt's backpedaling: "The governor said last week that he meant that he opposed changing eligibility until after he improved Medicaid's efficiency" (02/06/05).
Is it efficient to take health insurance from the disabled and blind? Is it equitable? Will it save us money when people with conditions that could have been treated show up at the emergency room? Quincy Boyd a 62-year-old Vietnam veteran who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003 stated, "If not for Medicaid and the assistance I received, I'd be walking around with cancer now - or I'd be dead" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 02/03/05).
In addition to these cuts Gov. Blunt has proposed to eliminate "First Steps" a program that provides therapy for children younger than 3 that have Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or other developmental disabilities. Blunt "said he'd like to direct First Steps children to services offered through Medicaid or private insurance" (Springfield News Leader, 02/06/05).
Medicaid is of course the program he wants to cut and if such families had private insurance (or private insurance that covered such therapy) we likely wouldn't be discussing any of this. Corporate and callous conservatism may make friends and clients of the Blunt family money but it does so at the price of family health.
Commentary by Seth Jackson, MSW student, SMSU