It’s a mystery to me, Mr. President. In Michigan, our Senators have voted to pass a bill that would yank $500 million out of the Department of Community Health budget for the 2009-2010 Fiscal Year. Today, three Senators and three Representatives are meeting in a conference committee, attempting to iron out a mutual budget agreement by 5:00 pm tomorrow night. There are some concerns, well-founded concerns, that pulling $500 million out of a budget that didn’t have enough money in it already might be a little drastic.
A little drastic? A LITTLE drastic? The $500 million in cuts include:
- 8% cut to Medicare Provider Reimbursement Rates.
- A virtual elimination of Healthy Michigan Funds which funds programs that are designed to reduce chronic disease and risk factors associated with them. Some of these programs include: cancer prevention and control; heart disease and stroke prevention; diabetes and diabetes education; asthma prevention; and obesity prevention and physical activity promotion.
- Funding for adolescent school-based health centers which will cause more than 200,000 children and adolescents in underserved communities to lose access to health care.
- Reductions in funding for immunizations and infectious disease control, endangering everyone’s health and our ability to manage a statewide pandemic.
- Cuts to mental health services and access to psychotropic medications.
- Elimination of adult Medicaid dental, chiropractic, and podiatry services.
Mr. President, I applaud your desire to give health care coverage to every citizen, I really do. But I don’t understand how you can look at spending trillions of dollars on one program and rip out the heart and soul of the one already in place. You may be giving people an shiny insurance card but if the public health program is destroyed, where are these people going to go?
Mr. President, I remember when you were in Lansing on the campaign trail. I was there, listening to you talk about your plans for health care for everyone then. It so happened that the same week you were there, our legislators vetoed a puny $2 million increase for the public health program in Michigan. I remember thinking then, “If we can’t get $2 million out of our state budget for public health, how are we going to insure everyone?”
I’m still asking the same question, Mr. President. I heard this weekend about U of M students with H1N1 who are quarantined in their rooms and having meals delivered to them on trays. I hear that the sororities and fraternities are being discouraged from having rush week due to the university’s desire to control H1N1 on campus. It’s already showing up in the local schools here in Ingham County. And immunization funds are on the chopping block.
You have spoken frequently about the need for preventive health and I ask you, where are you going to find more preventive health teaching than in the public health department? Read through the bullet points, Mr. President – where are these people to go? When 8% is cut out of the Medicaid provider reimbursement rates, who is going to take these people on as patients?
I don’t understand how this is going to work, Mr. President, I really don’t. I wish you would explain it to me. I fear for our people, Mr. President. I just need an explanation. Tell me that in our haste to care for people that we are not dropping the bottom out of our already existing programs. Because it sure looks that way to me.
And I don’t like the view.
If you’re reading this on either Monday, September 21 or Tuesday, September 22, you are encouraged to contact the Conference Committee members below with your opinion:
CONFERENCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Rep. Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard), Chair
Rep. Rich Hammel (D-Mt. Morris)
Rep. Kevin Green (R-Wyoming)
Sen. Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw Twp.)
Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy)
Sen. Deb Cherry (D-Burton)