Letters to the Editor

Poor children hit hard by state Medicaid cuts

I am surprised at the recent Associated Press article that suggests cutting Medicaid does not result in less access for poor children to health care.

Medicaid, largely a health care program for poor children, is already the poorest-funded portion of the health care system. Fee-for-service rates to providers and hospitals are already substantially below those of Medicare, and health care providers for children tend to be the poorest paid of all providers.

Children on Medicaid already have problems accessing services. Because of low payment rates, several specialty services for poor children already are restricted or not available in this community.

Cutting Medicaid access may in fact increase the cost of health care for poor kids. Children when sick enough still will be seen in the emergency room, although at a higher, more acute level, and the uninsured costs of this care is spread among the other payers.

Medicaid funds about half the services for children in this state, and cutting reimbursement for pediatric care will dismantle the existing array of services for all children.

Elsewhere in the state budget we find other program cuts for children.

What does it say about a community and a state that wants to fund property tax cuts by cutting services to its most vulnerable -- our children? That's a philosophy I personally find reprehensible.

Cuts to Medicaid are only unavoidable if our state leaders refuse to provide adequate funding. Both parties need to understand the importance of investing in our kids.

Dr. Francis E. RushtonDistrict IV chairmanAmerican Academy of PediatricsBeaufort