Friday, June 03, 2011

A Few Weeks In the Life of a Wingnut Governor: Rick Scott, a Ringwraith.

That would be Florida governor Rick Scott. My, what a busy beaver he is! He has managed to turn large chunks of the Medicaid system to for-profit health care providers:
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed two historic Medicaid bills Thursday, placing the health care of nearly 3 million Florida residents into the hands of for-profit companies and hospital networks.
Lawmakers said the program was overwhelming the state budget and needed to be privatized to rein in costs and improve patient care. Critics fear the bills build on a flawed five-county experiment where patients struggled to access specialists and doctors complained the treatments they prescribed were frequently denied.
Medicaid pays for the health expenses of certain groups of the poor but it also covers 60% of all nursing-home care for the elderly in this country. Many of those elderly were not poor until they spent down their own funds.

So it is pretty fascinating that the privatization will begin with the latter group:
Long-term care patients will be the first to enroll in the statewide program starting in October 2013. The rest of the population will join the following year. The developmentally disabled population will not be included in the privatization program and will operate for three years under an 'I Budget,' which offers patients more flexibility.
Those seniors were not included in the original part program "because everyone knew they were too frail," said Rep. Elaine Schwartz.
"Extra vulnerable seniors who do not have the stamina to struggle with the Medicaid web of claim denials that HMOs practice should not be the first to be thrown under the bus, state-wide," said Schwartz, a Democrat from Hollywood.

I have not kept up with the research that studies quality of care in nursing homes but when I did follow that field the for-profit nursing homes had more problems than the not-for-profit nursing homes.

But wait! There is more! Rick Scott also signed into law new abortion restrictions:
House Bill 97 removes coverage for abortions in health care insurance exchanges created by federal health care reform. The law provides exceptions for cases of rape, incest and a threat to the woman’s life.
AND he cut funding for the care of at-risk infants. I'm not kidding you:
Last week, Gov. Rick Scott signed the state’s budget, which proposed reductions to health services for women and children. He also vetoed millions more in health service projects set aside specifically for women and children. Programs that aim to lower infant mortality and increase women’s health in the state have seen a major setback since Scott took office.
Among the many vetoes from last week: a program that would add a test for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease, or SCID, to the list of genetic diseases newborns are tested for in Florida.
There you go! Unborn children are valuable but once they are born children Rick Scott does not care. Neither does he care about the elderly or the poor.