And they’re right—if they limit the word “cut” to mean only “budget cut.” There have been numerous cuts to healthcare services in the U.S.
Florida Medicaid recipients have all lost dental coverage and a $25 over-the-counter medicine reimbursement. Florida Medicaid has also been paying out decreasing amounts to healthcare professionals, causing patients to have to switch doctors numerous times as more and more providers drop Medicaid coverage.
Why are so many services being cut even as healthcare budgets are increasing?
First, more people are receiving government healthcare. The baby boomer generation is retiring and collecting Medicare benefits. Obama’s healthcare reform has expanded eligibility for Medicaid. And a sagging economy is causing people to reach out for help, such as Supplemental Security Insurance: a social program that provides financial assistance and Medicaid insurance.
Second, healthcare funds are being redirected from non-profit organizations to for-profit businesses. These businesses have higher administrative costs. They also have lower quality scores, probably because more healthcare funding is being packed into fat, for-profit wallets, leaving less money available to actually help treat the patients.1, 2
The future of healthcare in the U.S. looks bleak. Republicans are currently pressing for healthcare cuts in the deficit negotiations. Florida governor Rick Scott is proposing a 17% cut in disability programs. This is the man who was co-founder and CEO of a company convicted of the largest healthcare fraud case in U.S. history, pleading guilty to 14 felonies and paying out over $2 billion in settlements.
He may not have cut healthcare funding, but his company stole healthcare funds under his watch, which is far worse. Two whistle-blowers claimed that Scott was fully aware of the fraud, yet he was never put on trial. His penalty was being forced to resign with a $10 million severance package and $300 million in shares.
Since then he has passed Tea Party-endorsed legislation requiring welfare recipients to take drug tests—a policy deemed unconstitutional and fiscally irresponsible by the ACLU. According to the Department of Children and Families, 96% of recipients have passed the drug test, and the already failing program is costing taxpayers $180 million a year.3
What company is providing these drug tests? Solantic, co-founded by none other than Rick Scott. To avoid an unethical and illegal conflict of interest, he transferred his $62 million in shares to his wife.4, 5 Now they’re raking in taxpayer dollars.
The United States is the only developed nation without universal healthcare. Public healthcare is simply not as profitable as increased privatization to a privileged and dominant subculture that worships wealth and demonizes the poor.