Budget Problems - Healthcare

How the Medical Field Has Felt the Impact

What does the medical field have to do with the budget?

Without question, the medical field has been greatly affected by the current budget crisis. Despite not having a state budget to go by, many cuts and changes are being made by our governor, Bruce Rauner. Despite cuts being necessary, it is always very difficult to make cuts in the medical field. It seems that no matter where the money is cut down, someone or some group of people suffers. A few areas in particular have suffered the most from a lack of funding by the state.
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Nursing Homes

Nursing homes and other elderly assisted living centers have suffered a great deal from the budget cuts made by the state. The way things are going, nursing homes are expected to lose $230 million in funding. $230 MILLION!! In the months of May and June alone, nursing homes across the state of Illinois have lost $15 million in funding. In other words, $15 million that would have normally been spent by the state on nursing home services have been completely cut out.
Nursing homes across the state are facing a lot of cuts in funding. All aspects have been cut: services to the residents, upkeep of the facility, and number of workers on duty at one time. Many of the nurses have lost their jobs working for the centers because of the cuts made by our governor. Many of these cuts have been made in the recent past, but it seems that more are yet to come. The average LPN, or Licensed Practical Nurse, is in charge of dozens of residents at one time at these nursing homes. During the night shift, up to forty residents may be the responsibility of a single nurse. All it would take is one person with chest pain to potentially make things fall apart. If a particular person is in need of extra attention, there are no other staff members around to care for the others. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
Aside from the cut in personnel, the overall atmosphere of nursing homes has changed. According to Roger McClintock, a practicing doctor in Taylorville, it is obvious when walking in to a home that some of the upkeep is being neglected. As the people have found out, the government only has a certain amount of money. The big question all the time is about where the money the state does have should be sent. Are nursing homes important enough to receive more funding?

Kidney Dialysis

As you probably know, healthcare in the United States includes two major areas of focus: Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare focuses on healthcare for the elderly population, while Medicaid is about giving medical aid to lower-income families. One of Bruce Rauner's proposals involves cutting funding in Medicaid, which would directly affect those who are on kidney dialysis. Kidney dialysis is a procedure that is done three times a week, and it helps the function of the kidneys in patients who have health problems in that area. The dialysis helps to clean and filter blood. In Illinois, about 28,000 people routinely use kidney dialysis. If the cuts were made that Rauner is proposing, many people would be without this process. For many, the dialysis keeps them alive. Wouldn't cutting funds in this area lead to deaths?? Again, the government is having a difficult time deciding where the cuts should be made. Cuts in kidney dialysis would be terrible!
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Mental Health

Along with many other states in the country, Illinois has made millions of dollars of cuts in the area of mental health since 2009. At nearly $114 million, only California and New York have made bigger cuts. The problem with a lack of funding only continues now, especially since there is no budget yet for Illinois. Mental health centers are stationed in most counties of the state. While these facilities haven't been closed yet, many of their services have been cut. Employees have been laid off, which means that the facilities cannot accept as many patients. Mentally ill patients around the state are left with nowhere to go. These people need help and are not given it due to cuts by the state. The budget impasse we are experiencing is directly affecting this area. All funds are at a standstill.
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Interview of Roger McClintock, M.D.

Roger McClintock (my dad) agreed to share some of his experiences with the healthcare cuts in Illinois in a short interview. He is a practicing doctor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Springfield Clinic in Taylorville, Illinois.
1. How long have you practiced in Taylorville?

"21 years"

2. How has the budget crisis in healthcare affected your profession recently?

"In a nutshell, I have had more responsibilities when it comes to referring patients. Before, I could refer patients to any specialists they needed to see or to any facilities they needed to visit. As these places are losing funds and these people are unable to take in new patients, more is left up to me. I have to give specialty care to patients when I don't even have the right training to do that. It all puts the primary doctors in a really bad spot."

3. Do you routinely visit patients from nursing homes?

"Yes. I go to nursing homes about every six weeks."

4. Since the lack of funding to the nursing homes, what have you noticed as you visited there?

"First off, I want to say that the people who work there are great people. They are hardworking and they are doing the best that they can with limited resources. It is obvious to me when I visit that they are short on staff, and the facility as a whole is not kept clean or in working condition as well. The lack of funding definitely shows."

5. How has your job changed since the cut in funding to mental health facilities in the area?

"As I said before, the healthcare cuts make it difficult for me to refer patients to where they need to go. I am only the primary doctor; if things get out of my line of expertise, I refer them to specialists. For mentally ill patients, I often have to send them to various centers in the area for extra help. These centers are losing their funding because there is no budget to give them the allocations they need. Therefore, I have nowhere to send these people."

6. Besides nursing homes and mental health, in what other areas have you witnessed problems caused by the budget crisis?

"The biggest area I have witnessed problems in would be with vaccinations. Illinois has a service called Vaccines for Children, and it is in charge of immunizations that can be given to patients all across the state. The funding in this area has gone down, so immunizations have been limited lately. Many primary care doctors across the state are not able to give out all of the vaccines to children that they need. We are taking the risk by doing so; if they don't get their meningitis shot, they could acquire it. It's a disaster that young children can't always get the shots that they need."

Wrapping It Up

It is obvious that the current budget crisis that our state is experiencing has decreased funding to multiple areas in healthcare. This page only talked about a few of the many cuts that were made. As long as the funding has gone down, patients and doctors will continue to suffer.