The health care scam

August 16, 1991

It's no big surprise that the creative Medicaid financing devised by Nelson J. Sabatini, the state's health secretary, has failed to pass muster with the federal government. A few states had already found ways to increase the fees reimbursed by the feds, keeping the increase to help pay state Medicaid costs. But once as many as 23 states got in on the act, it was inevitable that the party would end. The Health Care Financing Administration, which oversees the Medicaid program, will soon be issuing new regulations that will eliminate the states' ability to devise such revenue enhancing schemes. Too bad, however, that no new regulations can be devised to address the health-care crisis that lies behind such desperate tactics.

But it's worse than "too bad" -- it's scandalous, in fact -- that the Bush administration has not even bothered yet to come up with any kind of comprehensive policies for the nation's faltering health care system. As things stand now, this is a country in which millions of dollars are spent to keep vital signs flickering for permanently comatose people, simply because they are covered by insurance or qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. Meanwhile, thousands of people die each year from preventable causes, simply because they have no way to pay for routine health care. What is that if not rationed care -- care rationed on the cruel and arbitrary basis of access to a way to pay the bills?

The real health care scam in this country is not the efforts of Maryland and other states to tap federal resources in order to ease their own financial crises. The real scam is the pretense emanating from the White House that foreign wars matter, but that the health of Americans doesn't.

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