The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

18 April 2005

Seattle P-I: Tiny Copay "Mean"

The Deadly Dollar

Will Medicaid Patients Really Skip Doctor Visits?

Increasing extremism continues at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where today's edition has the editorial board thundering against a one-dollar copay proposal for clinic visits by Medicaid patients.

Gosh Wally, a whole dollar?

It would save Washington state $13.6 million over the next two years, but for P-I editors it's "mean" and "miserly", rather than reasonable.

Even more horrible, a three-dollar copay would be required for prescription drugs, under the proposal being considered by the legislature.

How many people on private health plans have copays less than $20 for a clinic visit and $25 for branded prescription medications?

Would a dollar really keep a low-income person away from their primary care physician?

Let's look at it this way: does this person, who supposedly doesn't have a single buck to his name, ever buy booze, cigarettes, or lottery tickets? Does he have cable TV, DVD players, etc.?

If the answer is yes, then why is it "mean" to ask for such a tiny health care contribution? Even if that's not the case, is a dollar really going to make or break anybody? It will cover just a tiny drop in the bucket of the real costs of that person's care.

(Seattle Post-Intelligencer- Editorial Board- 18 April 2005)
(Tip: Orbusmax)

Both the Senate and House operating budgets now under consideration in the Legislature call for charging some Medicaid patients a $3 co-pay on prescription drugs and a $1 co-pay per trip to receive non-emergency medical services. This tax on the poor is touted to save the state $13.6 million over the next two fiscal years.

Because of federal limits, the brunt of these new costs would fall on the elderly and the disabled. This is a miserly way to balance the budget without raising general taxes. It's likely mean, as well.

Miserly, if it makes people who are poor and sick pay more out of their meager means for prescription relief from their ills and transport to the doctor. Mean, if its real intent is to save money for the rest of us by encouraging poor patients to skip their prescriptions or put off seeking medical services.

If miserly and mean aren't bad enough, add fruitless.


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