(KCPW News) Tens of thousands of Utahns could lose their Medicaid coverage in 2011 if the Legislature can’t find new revenues next session to bolster the program, says Lincoln Nehring with the Utah Health Policy Project. And he believes those likely to be impacted by the cuts aren’t eligible for insurance on the private market.
“I mean they all have preexisting conditions, they’re not going to find affordable healthcare plans elsewhere. So Medicaid really is they’re only option, other than being uninsured,” Nehring says. “And we’re asking these families to do the impossible if we take away their Medicaid coverage.”
Nehring fears that lawmakers will scale back Medicaid to provide only the minimum services required by the federal government in certain areas.
Potential impacts would be felt in the areas of in-home care for seniors, ongoing care for the disabled and assistance for those who have suffered traumatic injuries, such as those sustained by Bridger Hunt when he was impaled by a neighbor’s illegal firework last summer. His mother, Mindy Shaw, is now pushing for the Legislature to consider tax increases instead of cutting the Medicaid program that paid for more than $3 million in medical bills for her son.
“Ultimately, do you want to live in a wonderful place where you’re safe and you know that if something bad did happen, you’re going to be OK? And I think as a community, everybody is willing to take that tax hike to be able to keep Medicaid in the system,” Shaw says.
Nehring says Utah’s Medicaid program is facing a $40 million budget shortfall because enrollment has increased 20 percent. And this comes at a time when the state is already considering more than $700 million in budget cuts.