We are asking state and local officials to pay close attention to their work on during budget cutting sessions.
It can’t be an easy task to find $5 billion, but requires incredible close look to make sure that an awful situation isn’t made worse than it needs to be.
$5 billion is the amount, state officials now calculate they will be short in the coming budget. Everyone is going to pay some cost. Our greatest fear is for healthcare funding in the state and the county.
Gov. Bev Perdue, while visiting Ashe County last week, said that there is no way to avoid cuts in schools. Education is one of her main areas of emphasis. She is a former educator herself.
Cuts in education have brought dire predictions of ill effects on training for the future. That has implications for our children, the future thinkers and breadwinners of the state and for economic development potential. It also bears critical quality of life implications – for the future.
Our immediate concern is more for health care agencies. Losses of funding have the potential certainly for misery for Ashe County’s aging, Medicare-using community and its sizeable, impoverished, Medicaid-reliant community.
It also has the potential for greater cost in other ways and other areas.
If home health services are cut to elderly health clients, the chance is greater that they will get off their medication, suffer more strokes and other maladies that are normally inexpensively controlled through medication. Falls among those patients are likely to be greater
Those same patients could well end up in hospital emergency rooms, requiring much more expensive treatments.
If mental health patients are denied medications for budgetary reason or denied needed treatment, they could end up adding to the costs of operating emergency rooms and sheriff’s offices.
We’ll need to be looking for alternatives to caring for the people cut out of the state funding opportunities.
An example of an aid that can work is the Ashe County Free medical Clinic. Its executive director and several board members recently appeared before Ashe County Commissioners asking for assistance. The organization is developing a good reputation for providing healthcare to working Ashe countians who fall through the cracks between state aid and insurance.
They do it with corporate and foundation grants and lots of volunteer help.
It is the type of solution that will help reduce suffering among Ashe County residents and avoid the worsening complications of untreated illness.