No Safety Net

Apr 9 2012
Quentin Young
Crain's Chicago Business

The proposal put forth by the safety-net hospitals in Illinois will cut as many as 300,000 people from Medicaid coverage ("Hospitals failing checkups," Crain's, Feb. 27). This reality places in stark relief the perpetuation of a broken health financing system. The toll will be exacted in preventable suffering, preventable death, in a word, the inhumanity of a health system that is the costliest in the world and yet leaves millions without financial protection.

This is true, of course, because the private insurance lobby insists on a high-profit denial-of-service model. Single payer financing would cover everyone with no increase in present expenditures. The continuing reliance on the existing model supplemented by public programs not only punishes the poor but increasingly makes our national economy unable to compete with countries worldwide that have adopted a rational health financing system.

Safety-net hospitals are indeed in jeopardy and rightly searching for solutions that will protect them and solve the state's financial challenges. Sadly, while cutting the Medicaid budget, the safety-net hospitals' proposal guarantees the swelling of the uninsured population in Illinois. In so doing, we will see more people using costly emergency room services paid for through the already strained county and city budgets.

Health and Medicine Policy Research Group

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