Alabama won’t be getting a new dime of new revenue. Governor Robert Bentley has taken the no-new-taxes pledge, so instead lawmakers will fill the hole with cuts to Medicaid and S-CHIP programs. That’s right, the dermatologist-governor would rather take health care away from kids and poor people than, say, tax cigarettes. Principles! Dr. Pippa Abston attended Pediatric Legislative Day in Montgomery on Monday and filed this report at his blog:
First we heard from some of my personal heroes, those in our Medicaid agency. These are the people who work day and night to find ways to stretch a dollar for the sake of children. We heard that there was still no provider payment date set, and that Medicaid was waiting for the Finance office to release funds. They are anticipating it may be a recurrent problem and are already making contingency plans for a rotating payment schedule. Some doctors will get paid one month, some the next, etc. We heard these grim words: “You are going to see things you’ve never seen before.” […]
Around the room, other pediatricians spoke up. We are usually a polite crowd, and we still were. There was no name calling or personal criticism, but there was both passion and anguish. I heard voices with barely held-back tears. One friend told Hubbard he needed to understand children would die. He listened to a few of these comments with visibly rising irritation and then said, curtly, “We appreciate your time”, turned on his heel, and walked out. Dr. Raulerson tried to hand him an information sheet as he left, and he refused to take it. It was a level of rudeness I have never encountered at our state house.
As we sat in shock, a legislator I didn’t recognize, stuffing his mouth with the lunch sponsored by Children’s Hospital of Alabama, said he had heard doctors were stealing from Medicaid left and right. He also left. (Emphasis mine)
Alabama is a poor state, and since poor people can’t afford a $1 cigarette tax hike we have to cut back on health care — see how that works? Pressed for a human response, the most legislators can seem to come up with is a cold shoulder and rationalized cognitive dissonance. Because these are also “pro-life” legislators, you see, and it’s just that their “right to life” ends at birth.