Sunday, February 07, 2010
Ideology vs. health care in Hawaii
by Larry Geller
Reading today’s Honolulu Advertiser may be hazardous to your health. The lead article talks once again about potentially dangerous meddling by the Lingle Administration with health care for Hawaii’s most vulnerable citizens.
Nowhere is there a hint that backing off from tax breaks for the wealthy or raising funds from other taxes could be used to reduce or eliminate the need for cutbacks.
You may recall that last year Hawaii’s Department of Human Services attempted to cut services to Micronesians and others living in Hawaii under the Compact of Free Association (COFA). Services to be cut included lifesaving dialysis and chemotherapy treatments.
It wasn’t a change of heart that prevented unnecessary deaths. It took a TRO issued by a federal judge to halt Lingle’s uncaring decision.
Today’s Advertiser describes more potentially damaging actions on the part of the Lingle Administration. If you don’t subscribe to the paper, click the image to read the complete article.
Professional journalists are typically restrained in using superlatives, so Derrick DePledge’s choice to use “stunned” and “alarmed” in today’s front-page Advertiser article, State may delay Quest payments (2/7/2010), is particularly significant:
The state Department of Human Services has warned health insurance companies that the state may not make payments for Quest — the state's health plan for low-income families — for the last quarter of the fiscal year, leaving insurers to absorb about $300 million in medical expenses until at least July.
The potential delay in payments has stunned insurers and alarmed health care providers, who worry a delay could jeopardize the ability of insurers to cover claims, which would cause cash flow problems and influence how some providers care for Quest members.
The article highlights several budget numbers. Nowhere does it mention alternatives such as increasing revenues to avoid the cuts. Let’s look at one of the numbers mentioned:
[Jennifer] Diesman[, vice president of government relations at HMSA,] said the Department of Human Services is also projecting a deficit for the next fiscal year, which Koller put at $146.5 million in her testimony to lawmakers. "There is no clarity about when we would be paid back," she said.
The $146.5 million is for next year. Raising that amount ought to be possible. My favorite suggestion is a tax on soda drinks which contribute to obesity and diabetes anyway. Sure, there could be other ideas, and we’ll need them all.
Need $146.5 million? Piece of cake, if you’ll pardon the expression. According to the Rudd Center calculator page, a 1.53 cent tax on soda beverages would bring Hawaii an estimated $143,556,236. Click the image to try your own calculations.
What will it take to break the ideological impasse? The Legislature can appropriate funds, but the Governor can veto the appropriation or withhold the money in the end, defying the intent of the Legislature. That’s supposed to be part of the “checks and balances.”
In practice, there’s no balance in the Governor’s ideology, just cuts for Hawaii’s most vulnerable while the affluent remain protected against loss of their profits.
All these drinks are the root of the problem with everyones health Elminate the problem, cure the ailment. Prevention is the key here!
2.5c/oz and is collected from the bottler/distributor when sold to the wholesalers/retailers. that would be $240mil plus another $9.6mil or so on GE tax that I'm sure when they increase the prices of these drinks for the consumer to suck up.
Good title for this article. The problem with Lingle is that ideology is indeed more important than reality.