Calgon take me away! One of Long Suffering friends has practiced as a defense attorney in my county and an assistant prosecutor for the last 12 years, so I read with interest Senator Bill Stouffer's claim that the reason for changing the eligibility rules for Medicaid was to reduce fraud. Yeah right! Those like my friend who executed upon receipt of a completed investigation from the various divisions of the Department of Social Services can spec from experience that in our little county those who fraudulently receive government benefits are vigorously prosecuted upon receipt of a completed investigation from various divisions of the Department of Social Services.
To justify his vote for a bill reducing the availability of Medicaid to the working poor, asswipe Senator Stouffer , cited someone he knew who was apparently fraudulently receiving benefits. One would think that given his obligation to make budget decisions for the 'don't show me state', Senator Stouffer knows which agencies have responsibility for investigating fraud. Well, one would think. Perhaps his staff could call any of the nine prosecutor's offices in the district (including his brother, the prosecuting attorney for Saline County) for this information. Then again, maybe like our invented ruler that would be "hard work." I mean really picking up the phone can just flat wear ya out.
Given his justification for the Medicaid cuts, I took a quick look at this year's appropriation bill for the Department of Social Services. I started with the Division of Legal Services - the agency that does the actual investigations when someone has fraudulently received funds. Comparing last year's budget to this year's budget showed a reduction in staff. Humm.....I moved on to the field staff for income maintenance - the people who initially review applications to make sure that people are qualified to receive Medicaid. Again, there here was a reduction in staff. Finally, I moved to the field staff for Child Support Enforcement - the people who make sure absent parents provide health insurance so Medicaid does not have to pick up the bill. There were staff reductions there as well. Is there a pattern here or what?
Now I know that funds are tight in Jefferson City, but these cuts simply do not make a lick of sense, blondesense or otherwise if the General Assembly is concerned about fraud. If there is extensive fraud, as Stouffer proposes, additional staffing in these agencies would pay for themselves by catching all this fraud. Notably, child support enforcement is 100% reimbursed by the federal government. Cutting child support does not bring the state budget any closer to balance. It is merely returning our tax dollars to Washington to be spent in some other state.
These staff reductions make it clear that the claims of Senator Stouffer and his butt and buck buddies in Jefferson City about reducing fraud are just a fig leaf covering the real agenda -- cutting Medicaid and other programs which assist the working poor. Oddly, while eliminating minimal health care coverage for those working full-time at poor-paying jobs, our lovely state senator had no problem accepting the extensive health care benefits he gets at the taxpayer expense for his part-time job. More of what Jesus would do, I suppose!
When there was a bipartisan reform of programs aiding the poor in the mid-90's, both parties agreed that these programs needed to be altered so that unemployed individuals would not be worse off if they took low-paying, minimum-wage, entry-level positions. The intent was to have programs in which benefits were gradually reduced as income rose above poverty level. As a result of the actions of Senator Stouffer and his cronies, however, the state has created a strong incentive for a poor person to not seek employment.
The people deserve the courtesy of a real debate about who should be eligible for Medicaid. Instead, Senator Stouffer hides his real agenda behind pleasant sounding lies and bullshit. These working poor do get sick--really sick--doctors will see them in emergency rooms. And just like Mr. Stouffer's own health care coverage, who do you think will foot the bill? God bless America and Jesus politics.