We’ve all heard the saying “Take from the rich and give to the poor.” Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed health care cuts, however, are attempting to do the opposite.
Under his new health care plan, $500 million would be taken from BadgerCare and
Medicaid health care plans.
This is similar to taking candy from a
While I agree that yes, cuts do need to be made, health care
is not where said cuts should come from. Is taking money from the sick going to make
them any healthier? No. In fact, the opposite will occur; those struggling with life-threatening conditions such as cancer will be kept from receiving the care they need.
How many people will need to die because they can’t afford the proper care before
government officials realize that budgetary cuts can’t come from health care?
With the proposed budget cuts, an estimated 64,000 people would lose health care
coverage. Half of them would be children. All of them would be citizens of Wisconsin
that pay their taxes and are entirely within their rights and have eligibility to receive
BadgerCare. Yet, with the proposed cuts, the care they deserve is withdrawn.
So where can the money come from? How about the tax “giveaways” being
funded by the Walker administration? Of course that is out of the question, because
the second corporations are forced to pay, they’ll pull their support from the Walker
campaign. Without support and corporate funding down the road, what will become of
Walker’s campaign for re-election? It surely will lose money, and Walker may or may not be re-elected.
And of course there is the argument that making health care less available will
force pharmaceutical companies to drop their prices to make their drugs more affordable
to those who need them. Still, the question arises: How many of the sick will need to
die before prices are made affordable enough for the general sick population?
A sick person is a sick person with or without government funding. That being
said, does it really seem fair to take funding from those who need all the help they can
get, no matter how much they do or don’t receive?
Being sick isn’t something that can
be readjusted to fit the constraints of a budget; people won’t become less sick because
they can’t afford the health care. How, then, is it fair to take from those who really have
nowhere else to go?
Christin Wiegand (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a sophomore with an undeclared major.
In an ideal world, each and every person would have access to cheap, high-quality health care. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. A quote from an influential paper on health care by Gerard F. Anderson, Uwe E. Reinhardt, Peter S. Hussey and Varduhi Petrosyan sums up the situation well: “… the United States spends more on health care than any of the other [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries spend, without providing more services than the other countries do.”
There are ways to address this – but they do not involve states throwing more money at the problem. For this reason, Wisconsin would be better off in the long term not passing the proposed legislation to reinstate BadgerCare funding. As shown by the OECD, when compared to other countries, the U.S. spends significantly more on health care – close to twice as much as some. Research and analysis indicate that this is largely due to the simple fact that health care costs more in the U.S.
There are a number of reasons for this, but a significant one is that providers of health care services and products have significant pricing power. In fact, the pharmaceutical and medical device industries are two of the five most profitable in the country, posting profits of nearly 20 percent. Of course, that’s not the only cause, but it’s an important one.
Cutting some health care funding may actually help to bring these prices down in the long run. If health care companies know that they can charge as much as they like and the government will pick up the tab no matter what, then they might do something crazy, like post a 20 percent profit margin.
On the other hand, if the market is liberalized, the companies will be forced to price competitively.
With incoming revenues falling for the state, the government has to make cuts somewhere. While some would argue for deficit spending during economic downturns, that is a national issue because Wisconsin’s constitution requires a balanced budget. Considering the high rate at which health care costs are increasing, some cuts to government health care spending are inevitable.
“Fixing” health care in the U.S. is a monumental task that will require significant action on the national level. It’s a travesty that some Wisconsonites may have difficulty getting health care as a result of Gov. Walker’s proposed cuts. However, reinstating the funds that have been cut would only be a short term and expensive band-aid solution.
Joe Timmerman (email@example.com) is a freshman majoring in math and economics.