Opinion: Editorial: Problems for Public Health

Opinion: Editorial: Problems for Public Health

Increasing the number of uninsured is bad for the rest of us, and the economy.

The proposed plan in the U.S. Senate to give the wealthiest Americans massive tax cuts by cutting health coverage for people who are poor, have disabilities and elders, would also affect the rest of the population, and the economy.

People without health insurance face economic uncertainty. When they do incur medical bills, they often cannot pay them in full. This increases costs to providers and decreases the ability to participate in the economy.

People without health insurance are sicker than people with insurance, but they also often can’t afford to stay home from work, often exposing others to preventable illnesses. They are less likely to have flu shots and other routine immunizations that protect all of us, including those with the weakest immune systems and those who cannot be vaccinated.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine was in Springfield this week talking to people who depend on Medicaid coverage. He and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner have been active in opposing these major cuts to health care.

This bears repeating — here are some other consequences of proposals in the Senate bill:

  • Millions of people lose their health insurance — 22 million fewer would have health insurance by 2026 according to the Congressional Budget Office analysis.

  • In Virginia, more than 14,000 veterans could lose coverage under Medicaid.

  • States could opt out of the law's essential health benefits measure, which requires insurers to cover 10 main benefits, including hospitalization, prescription drugs and other services. That is, companies could sell health insurance that wouldn’t actually be health insurance. Would Virginia be a state that opts out? Quite likely.

  • Loss of coverage for pre-existing conditions, including cancer survivors, people who had transplants, people with asthma, arthritis, high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, mental health issues, ADD, etc.

  • Ending annual and lifetime coverage caps would also impact people who get health insurance from their employers and the private insurance market. For example, a serious accident or an illness that requires repeated surgeries or bone marrow transplants could put any one of us over the coverage cap.

  • Medicaid pays public schools for many services for special education students, but the Senate bill removes schools from eligible Medicaid providers, costing Virginia an estimated $40 million annually; $3 million in Fairfax County; $2 million in the City of Alexandria.

  • $800 billion plus in cuts to Medicaid puts the funding for most people who are currently in nursing homes at risk. Many of these are people who were middle class but outlived their savings and coverage.

  • In Virginia, the proposed changes to Medicaid would cost the state $1.4 billion over seven years.

  • Medicaid pays for much of the fight against opioid addiction, including treatment. Cuts would be devastating to efforts to counter the wave of overdose deaths and other effects of addiction.

  • Coverage for mental health treatment, including addiction treatment, is threatened both by cuts to Medicaid and by changes in the private insurance market.

  • There will be greater need for Medicaid over time. More seniors will be poor, as fewer people who are retiring have pensions or adequate retirement savings. The demand for nursing home beds will be increasing as the population ages.

Read last week’s editorial, “Killing the Poor to Pay Millionaires,” here: http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/news/2017/jun/27/opinion-editorial-killing-poor-pay-millionaires/

Send in Pet Photos Now

The Pet Connection, a twice-yearly special edition, will publish the last week of July, and photos and stories of your pets with you and your family should be submitted by July 20.

We invite you to send us stories about your pets, photos of you and your family with your cats, dogs, llamas, alpacas, ponies, hamsters, snakes, lizards, frogs, rabbits, or whatever other creatures share your life with you.

Tell us the story of a special bond between a child and a dog, the story of how you came to adopt your pet, or examples of amazing feats of your creatures.

Do you volunteer at an animal shelter or therapeutic riding center or take your pet to visit people in a nursing home? Does your business have a pet? Is your business about pets? Have you helped to train an assistance dog? Do you or someone in your family depend on an assistance dog?

Or take this opportunity to memorialize a beloved pet you have lost.

Just a cute photo is fine too. Our favorite pictures include both pets and humans.

Please tell us a little bit about your creature, identify everyone in the photo, give a brief description what is happening in the photo, and include address and phone number (we will not publish your address or phone number, just your town name).

Email to editors@connectionnewspapers.com or submit online at www.connectionnewspapers.com/pets.