Budget Deficits Prompting Many States To Cut Programs, Including Health Services, That Could Provide Savings Over Long Term
Budget deficits are forcing many states to cut funding for safety net programs, including some health care services, thus hampering programs that usually help save money over time, the New York Times reports. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, safety net programs have been cut in at least 34 states.
For example, Arizona has ended a home health assistant program that provided the elderly and those with disabilities assistance with daily care activities and travel to physician appointments. State officials have acknowledged that the move could leave the elderly more likely to become sicker or fall, thus leading to more expensive nursing home stays. Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in January had to cut $1.6 billion in spending from the state's $10 billion annual budget, and the spending reductions all take effect before the end of the current fiscal year in June. The state expects a $3 billion budget deficit in the next fiscal year.
Linda Blessing, interim chief of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, said, "There's no question that we're getting short-term savings that will result in greater long-term human and financial costs," adding, "There are no good options, just less bad options" (Eckholm, New York Times, 4/12).