Sunday, April 10, 2011

People Will Die

I wonder if anyone has pointed out to our conservative state legislature members that the budget decisions they are making will result in human fatalities. That people will die as a direct result of their aversion to raise the revenue needed to provide basic services.

I have been going on and on about what the state budget is going to do to public education in the state, and it should be to no one’s surprise that at the bottom of it is an agenda to ruin public education so that school vouchers are the wave of the future along with the privatization of education. All of that, however, is long-range and therefore reversible at some point.

What they are doing to public healthcare, however, is more immediate. People. Will. Die.

This article in the Austin American-Statesman lays it all out. The plan is to cut state support of private attendant care services. These are the one on one services that enables the elderly to remain in their homes, but with a daily visit from a healthcare provider being paid the minimum wage to assist these people with doing the things that they now find difficult to accomplish on their own. Like bathing. Like dressing. Like cooking.

At the present time, 125,000 Texans are being provided these services. But if they are withdrawn, what do these people do? By definition, if you cannot take care of yourself in your home, a nursing home is the answer. But the cost to the state if this is the only alternative is four times what it would be with attendant care services. And funding to nursing homes is being cut as well. These people are essentially trapped.

I find that just a little cold. I don’t know how these people can live with themselves knowing that they are about to make life-altering decisions for the weakest among us.

Life-altering as in death-making.

Most people, I think, aren’t this cold-hearted. Even in the most conservative parts of the state people are asking themselves whether we can come up with the funding necessary to avoid these draconian cuts.

“Still, Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville , said recently that ‘even in my very Republican, conservative district,’ he's heard support for tapping the state's rainy day fund and raising the gas tax and state fees to cushion the impact of health care cuts.”
So conservatives do have a heart. They’re not quite there yet, it seems, as raising state fees isn’t going to cut it but at least they see the light. At least they now acknowledge the fact that yes, we are our brother’s keeper. And our parents and grandparents keeper, too.


Geri said...

When we can distance ourselves from the impact of our actions we become dissociated from our own connection to our values and to one another. One can make accusations anonymously over the internet but not face the accused, one can drop a bomb from overhead but not look into the eyes of the enemy and shoot. And one can with a stroke of a pen, cut the lifeline to one who suffers but not rip an IV from his arm. How did we become so alienated from one another?

Kirsten said...

What the Statesman article left out was how proposed Medicaid cuts and changes would impact pharmacy services. Economist Ray Perryman just did a study on this: