"No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help." ~ Isaiah 58:6-7
Via email, from Tim Clontz, Executive Vice President, Health Services, Moses Cone Health System. Posted with permission:
Moses Cone Health System and High Point Regional Health System want to continue providing care to underserved adults and children in Guilford County and have been negotiating a contract to do so for two years.
Recognizing the tough economic environment we have suggested a 33% reduction ($500,000) in the county’s contribution for the care of indigent adults. We will continue caring for children with the same level of county funding. The contribution currently made by the county is less than what the county loss on these same clinics when the county ran them as a part of the Health Department over 13 years ago. Since being run by the health systems, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children seen and specialty clinics added.
Moses Cone Health System alone provided $125.4 million (at our cost) of uncompensated care last fiscal year. This includes $3.5 million dollars, which MCHS and HPRHS have paid to subsidize the operations of Guilford Child Health and Guilford Adult Health.
Guilford County’s refusal to pay its share of the cost of caring for indigent adults only shifts the cost from all county taxpayers to those who have insurance in the form of higher medical bills.
Addiction develops much more rapidly with cocaine than alcohol, often within a few weeks or months, and especially when smoked as freebase (crack). Thus, the dynamics of cocaine addiction are different from those of alcoholism, including its impact on the individual and the family. Cocaine addiction can be likened to a rapid-onset trauma that stuns its victims, compared with alcoholism, which progressively and insidiously debilitates the drinker over a much longer period. The cocaine-affected family is less likely to show the deeply ingrained systemic aberrations and codependent relationships so commonly seen in alcoholic families.
~ from “Outpatient Treatment of Cocaine and Crack Addiction: A Clinical Perspective,” by Arnold M. Washton and Nannatte Stone-Washton (PDF)
Homeless people in Greensboro get their health care in the emergency rooms of our local hospitals and at the two HealthServe clinics, whose burgeoning patient loads have forced them to limit access to care. HealthServe is obviously more cost-effective than an ER visit, but Guilford County Commissioners plan a $1.6 million cut to health care that will affect HealthServe and other programs that serve the poor and homeless, further burdening an already overwhelmed system and hurting our community’s most vulnerable residents.
The Guilford Community Care Network added more doctors this year and is reaching out to specialists to help care for the countyâ€™s increasing number of uninsured.
But those efforts might be derailed if the county goes through with a planned $1.6 million cut to Guilford Adult Health, which would funnel down to Moses Coneâ€™s HealthServe and High Point Regionalâ€™s adult health clinic.
The cut could â€œimpact the care of several thousand patients,â€ said Dr. David Talbot, who works for Moses Cone Health System as medical director for HealthServe on South Eugene Street.
Most of HealthServeâ€™s patients â€” about 75 percent â€” have no insurance.
HealthServe makes up just one piece of the Guilford Community Care Network. There are programs for immigrants, dental health and the other county-funded program, Guilford Child Health. The network also connects programs that work with the homeless, such as the Salvation Armyâ€™s Center of Hope.
I understand the need to avoid a tax increase, and I know that many property tax payers are poor themselves (I suspect that the health care cut will affect some of them directly), but I wonder if there aren’t other places to save tax dollars, that would cause less harm than cutting health care services to our community’s poor and homeless?