Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cuts at Hospital Create Confusion

Compassionate conservatism, my ass. The fact that the word 'conservative' needs an adjective to make it appear friendlier ought to be a tip-off to people that there is nothing 'compassionate' about said ideology. For as much as Republican politicians go on-and-on about a 'culture of life,' I think it's telling how inhumanely they treat the living poor. Their mantra seems to be: "Save the fetus, forget the child."

DEBRA SKODACK, KC STAR - It was standing room only Monday in Truman Medical Center’s financial counseling center as the main health provider for the area’s poor made cuts in services.

The changes include the elimination of the hospital’s prescription assistance program and the requirement that nonemergency patients who live outside Kansas City or Jackson County make a down payment on their anticipated bill (at LEAST 25%) and commit to paying the balance. And Truman eliminated dental services at its Lakewood facility for adult patients who lack dental coverage, unless they work out a payment plan in advance.

Most days, 100 to 150 people seek financial counseling at Truman. On Monday, about 250 did so. And it’s possible the counseling center will become more hectic as cuts in Missouri Medicaid take effect Thursday, said Shelly Phinney, corporate manager of Truman’s financial counseling center.

More than 300,000 Missourians are expected to be affected by those changes, which include the elimination of adult dental coverage, a reduction in rehabilitation services and changes in Medicaid coverage for children...

There are concerns about what will happen because of the Medicaid changes, including the possibility that some people will simply go without medical care.

Phinney said a man who came in for legal aid assistance last week said he hadn’t been taking his medication because his Medicaid coverage had been terminated.

“He had a seizure right there,” Phinney said. “He went to the emergency department.”

“We don’t know what it will mean,” said Sheri Wood, executive director of Kansas City Free Health Clinic. “There will be people with no insurance. They will be struggling to find new providers and new medical homes.

"We turn away hundreds of people each week,” Wood said. “It’s just going to more hundreds.”


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