From Volume 38, Issue 11 of EIR Online, Published Mar. 18, 2011

U.S. Economic/Financial News

Medicaid Cuts: How To Make Sure Parasites Are Fed

March 7 (EIRNS)—With the Obama regime wiping away by executive fiat the Federal regulations on how states use their Federal Medicaid contributions, more and more states are ripping out the last safety net for their poorest citizens. As an American Medical Association newswire reported in clinical fashion on March 7, "A push by Arizona to reduce its Medicaid coverage to help plug massive budget deficits recently received a nod from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The acknowledgment soon was followed by new HHS advice to all states on how they might dial back on their Medicaid coverage to help tackle budget crises without violating federal law."

Nationally, Medicaid enrollment has risen to a record 60 million people, according to estimates by the Kaiser Family Foundation. On average, Medicaid consumes 22% of a state's budget, rising to 28% in New York and 33% in Illinois, says a Wells Fargo Research & Economics report. At least 23 states are trying to impose deep cuts in Medicaid.

Among the states counting on the regime's approval of their proposed cuts are:

Arizona: It plans to eliminate funding for about one-fifth of its current Medicaid recipients. That will cut off some 280,000 people from health benefits. No more organ transplants. Cuts of 5% to doctors and other providers.

Massachusetts: This state, that used to be pointed to as the model for Obamacare, plans to save $1 billion a year by putting coverage of more than 800,000 recipients up for competitive bidding, so that people can get their medications and surgeries from the lowest bidder.

Wisconsin: Under Gov. Muammar Walker's plan released last week, some 55,000 people could lose their health insurance under the state's BadgerCare program.

* California: Gov. Jerry Brown proposes to cut $1.7 billion from the MediCal program by reducing in-home care, doctors' visits, and some prescription drugs for the 7.7 million people who rely on it.

New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to take $2.85 billion of "fat" out of Medicaid.

Aside from California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Dakota are also proposing cuts to payments to providers.

California wants to terminate vision benefits under a family health program, and Kansas, Massachusetts, and Mississippi are discarding certain mental health services.

16 Million American Children Now Homeless

March 7 (EIRNS)—CBS devoted a segment of its "60 Minutes" program on March 6 to the plight of the growing number of American children who are homeless. Two years ago they numbered 14 million. Now, they are 16 million. Soon, reported CBS's Scott Pelley, one-quarter of all American children will be living in poverty—that is, if you go by the bogus Federal guidelines that say that a family of four with an annual household income of more than $22,000 isn't impoverished: "the largest American generation to be raised in hard times since the Great Depression."

A woman who runs programs for homeless children in Seminole County, Fla., northeast of Orlando, said, "Our numbers go up every day. Between 5 and 15 new homeless students a day.... When I first started this program eight years ago, homelessness lasted maybe two, three months. But now with it lasting three, six months, a year, or two years. This is when children are developing who they are, and their foundation is broken."

Billions Lost Annually to Rotting Infrastructure

March 7 (EIRNS)—The New American Foundation issued a report today on the "Costs of the Infrastructure Deficit," showing that the short-term costs of the decayed infrastructure to the American economy each year is far more than $200 billion. Some results:

Transportation: Americans spent 4.8 million hours caught in traffic in 2009, wasting 3.9 billion gallons of gas. This cost truckers alone $33 billion. Since 1980, highway mileage increased 4.5%, while the number of cars increased by 12.7%, and trucks by 56.4%! (The report doesn't calculate the cost of failing to build decent rail capacity.)

Aviation: Flight delays are at a record high, costing $40.7 billion and wasting 740 million gallons of fuel. (Again, the study did not consider the cost of the failed rail system.)

Water: Over 7 billion gallons of water are wasted daily through the crumbling water pipes in the U.S., mostly between 50-100 years old, which lose between 6% and 25% of their water. The report notes that the Obama stimulus had $13.5 billion for water infrastructure, "a drop in the metaphorical bucket compared to current needs."

The report notes the loss to public safety in addition to financial losses, pointing to Katrina, costing $200 billion in damage and 1,800 lives, due to the rejection of known infrastructure needs—a $14 billion plan which was voted down in the Congress due to cost considerations. Add to that the bridge failures, contaminated water, and on and on.

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