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Missing in Action: Half of all state budget health care cuts

The proposed budget below has plenty of cuts to worry anyone concerned about health care. Limiting health insurance for kids, cutting dental care and eyeglasses for people with disabilities and the elderly, denying artificial limbs for people with diabetes, cutting mental health services. However, a closer look reveals that there are more cuts in this budget – many more – but they simply aren’t specified.

Over the next year, the budget calls for $507 million in unspecified cuts in Medicaid and $74 million in unspecified cuts in mental health services.

Let me put this in perspective. For Medicaid, all the terrible cuts to health services already (excluding cuts that actually make sense, like a preferred drug list with appropriate protections) add up to less than $507 million. It’s not quite as close in mental health, but very nearly.

So, to make this budget work, NC still has to cut as many programs and services in health care as have been cut already.

Why do budget writers want to hide half the cuts in health care they must do under this budget? Do they fear even more public outcry over the additional programs that must be cut and so prefer not to say where they would trim? Do they think they will raise revenue and not have to actually make these cuts? If they want to raise public anger over deep cuts so as to make tax cuts easier to swallow wouldn’t they want to tell everyone what those cuts would be?

I’m puzzled, but one thing is abundantly clear. At least half the House budget debate on health care is missing in action.