Letters to the Editor

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MEDICAID: Co-payments aren’t a good answer

Letter by Brendan Williams, Olympia on April 25, 2013 at 12:53 pm with No Comments »
April 25, 2013 2:15 pm

Re: “School funding without taxes sacrifices the poor” (editorial, 4-25).

In an otherwise excellent editorial about the no-new-taxes Senate’s failure to fund programs for our most vulnerable, The News Tribune embraces “co-payments for Medicaid.”

Medicaid expansion will be funded 100 percent by the federal government, which means co-pays would, at best, return federal tax dollars. Then they would create Medicaid bad debt for providers unable to collect payments from the medically indigent. Having represented long-term care providers I can attest there is no worse debt than Medicaid bad debt.

Under federal law, hospitals cannot refuse care to anyone presenting in an ER. Thus, contrary to the editorial’s premise, co-pays wouldn’t deter hospital visits. Nor does evidence support the theory that co-pays prevent unnecessary utilization. Instead, for those living paycheck-to-paycheck, they might deter proactive, preventative care visits – resulting in greater system costs down the road. This is an exceptionally bad, self-defeating idea.

(Williams, a former state representative, is an attorney and long-term-care advocate.)

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