More budget work needed

Jun. 04, 2014 @ 03:48 AM

Schools, teachers, the poor.

Now we can add the elderly to those potentially adversely affected by the North Carolina Senate’s budget proposal.

According to the N.C. Coalition on Aging, the Senate’s proposal includes cuts to Medicaid that could lead to more than 15,000 disabled and elderly residents being taken off Medicaid rolls.

During a press conference Tuesday, nearly 100 people spoke out against the Senate plan and urged members of the North Carolina House to reject the budget proposal.

As the days go on and more details about the Senate budget come to light, we are starting to agree that this budget should be scrapped.

Lou Wilson of the N.C. Association of Long Term Care Facilities told the Associated Press the proposed cuts to Medicaid would lead to a “human tragedy” because adult care homes would be forced to discharge residents who experience benefit cuts because the facilities would not have money to operate their facilities.

The reasoning behind the Senate proposal is the belief the elderly and disabled can have their coverage shifted to the Affordable Care Act, but Wilson contends there is no long-term insurance available, thus leaving the elderly and disabled out in the cold.

The fact is the Division of Medical Assistance is the state agency responsible for administering the state’s Medicaid and Health Choice for Children programs.

In order to trim expenses, the Senate has devised a plan to take the expense away from the Division of Medical Assistance and shift it to the consumer through the Affordable Care Act.

Let’s be realistic here.

Medicaid is designed for low-income individuals and families who cannot afford health care costs. It serves low-income parents, children, seniors and people with disabilities.

It seems the Senate is content with doing away with its responsibility to help those residents in need in lieu of saving a buck.

That is simply unacceptable.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul is only a temporary fix and can lead to more trouble down the road. What happens when these care facilities have to let patients go or shut down altogether because people don’t have insurance to pay the bills?

It’s not likely the state will step in and fix that.

So, why create a long-term problem?

Perhaps it’s time for the North Carolina House to let the Senate number-crunchers know they need to go back and do a little more work because this budget simply isn’t getting the job done.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board

The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark.