Study: Children receiving Medicaid at highest risk of child abuse

Poverty a risk factor for child abuse

February 6th, 2012 by | Permalink

Child abuse higher in families stricken by poverty in the U.S.

Pending a March 2012 publication, a recent study of current child abuse trends, released by Yale University, indicates that children receiving government sponsored healthcare (Medicaid) are at much greater risk of severe child abuse than children not receiving government aid.  In fact, the Yale study suggested that Medicaid recipients who were children were 6X more likely to be victims of child abuse injuries than non-Medicaid recipients.

Also of economic note, the research suggests an increase in child abuse since the U.S. recession hit in 2009. Between 2006 and 2009, reported child abuse cases rose 56%. Yale researchers believe there is a link between the loss of jobs and housing bust and it’s relationship to child abuse.

Lead researcher John M. Leventhal, MD, said this about the economic correlation:

“Medicaid is just a marker of poverty, and poverty leads to stress. In our study, Medicaid was a proxy measure for poverty, and poverty increases the stress in people’s lives. But it’s important to note that any parent could lose it.”

According to the research, more infants die of extreme abuse in the U.S. than they do of SIDS. An estimated 4,569 infants and children under the age of 18 are victims of traumatic head injuries or physical abuse by hospital admission. Researchers caution the accuracy of such numbers given so many child abuse cases go unreported. Also excluded are cases where hospital staff note, ‘suspicious child injuries’.  In 2006, 300 children died from their abuse related injuries. The most dangerous and vulnerable period for a child is infancy, according to the study, when crying is at its peak.

More Medicaid Substance-abuse treatment needed

Medicaid asks for funding for substance-abuse treatment

By Beth Musgrave — bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

Posted: 5:51pm on Feb 6, 2012; Modified: 11:02am on Feb 7, 2012

 FRANKFORT — If the legislature approves, nearly 6,000 people could be treated for substance abuse under the state-federal program for the poor and disabled.

Kentucky is one of only seven states that does not offer substance-abuse treatment in its Medicaid program.

With the number of Kentuckians with substance-abuse problems on the rise, treating more people with addiction will improve people’s health and the state’s bottom line, said Stephen Hall, commissioner of the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities.

The average cost of intensive outpatient drug addiction services is $2,500. An adult who is not treated costs the taxpayers more than $23,000 in prison and other costs, Hall said.

Studies of Kentucky drug treatment programs show dramatic increases in the level of employment of people who successfully complete treatment, Hall said.

He testified Monday before a House budget subcommittee on health and human services. The expansion of the state’s drug addiction services in the Medicaid program is one of several new spending items Gov. Steve Beshear has proposed in his two-year budget. Beshear has said that expanding drug treatment is key to tackling the state’s drug epidemic.

Beshear, at a news conference Monday, said that during the past 10 years, the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to pain killers has gone up 900 percent. According to federal statistics, more than 25,428 people were admitted to Kentucky drug and alcohol rehab programs in 2010.

Beshear is asking for $11.6 million in the first year of the budget to serve about 4,500 people. He is asking for $14.9 million in the second year of the budget to serve an additional 1,300 people.

“All of the research shows that this is a smart thing to do,” Hall said of the return on the investment.

He said Medicaid-eligible Kentuckians who have a mental illness and substance-abuse problems or who have substance abuse problems and custody of a minor child will have priority in the program. Those with serious addiction problems also will be treated.

Teresa James, acting commissioner for the Department for Community Based Services, has said that the additional money for substance-abuse treatment would be key to helping fight child abuse. The state has too few drug treatment programs for parents accused of child abuse or neglect, James has told legislators.

Hall said the state’s community mental health centers already have community-based drug treatment programs that can be expanded to treat substance abuse if the legislature agrees to the funding increase.

Many on the House budget committee applauded the move, saying it was long overdue. However, the state is facing one of its leanest budgets in a decade. Most state agencies will have to absorb an 8.4 percent cut under Beshear’s proposed two-year budget. That’s on top of four years of cuts. Many state agencies’ budgets have been cut more than 30 percent during the past few years.

Sen. Robert Leeper, chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, said Monday that with so many state agencies facing deep cuts, any additional spending in new areas would receive scrutiny.

“It’s a difficult time to start any new programs,” said Leeper.

Beshear is also asking for money to fund a new residential program for the severely mentally ill. Currently, there is no money for residential and support services for that population.

Beshear is asking for $2 million for the next fiscal year and $4 million in the following year for 400 additional placements for people with severe mental illness who need additional services.

Kathy Dobbins is executive director of Wellspring, which provides residential and support services for the severely mentally ill in Louisville. Wellspring, through a combination of state, federal and private money, is one of only two providers in Kentucky that offer community support and residential services for the severely mentally ill.

It costs about $700 a day to serve someone in a psychiatric hospital, compared to $1,000 to $2,000 to provide residential services for someone for a month.

“It’s not just the financial savings,” Dobbins said. “This is the right thing to do.”

The legislature has until April 15 to pass a two-year budget.

Healthcare spending will reach 1.8 Trillion

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON | Tue Feb 7, 2012 8:32am EST

(Reuters) – Government spending for Medicare, Medicaid and other healthcare programs will more than double over the next decade to $1.8 trillion, or 7.3 percent of the country’s total economic output, congressional researchers said on Tuesday.

In its annual budget and economic outlook, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said that even under its most conservative projections, healthcare spending would rise by 8 percent a year from 2012 to 2022, mainly as a result of an aging U.S. population and rising treatment costs. It will continue to be a key driver of the U.S. budget deficit.

Medicare, the federal healthcare program for the elderly, accounts for about half the projected growth, with Medicaid at roughly one-third and the remainder attributed to new federal subsidies to help lower income Americans purchase insurance under President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare overhaul.

Spending is expected to dip this year to $847 billion, from $856 billion in 2011, because extra federal money to help cash-strapped states pay for Medicaid ended last July. The healthcare program for the poor, Medicaid is jointly funded by federal and state governments.

But researchers warned that the longer term prospects for rising healthcare spending could have dire consequences for the U.S. deficit when combined with the cost of Social Security, if current revenue levels remain unchanged.

“The resulting deficits will increase federal debt to unsupportable levels,” the CBO report said.

“To prevent that outcome, policymakers will have to substantially restrain the growth of spending for those programs, raise revenues above their historical share of GDP, or pursue some combination of those two approaches.”

The data present the latest sobering news for Obama and lawmakers in Congress, who have spent months wrangling over how best to reduce a federal deficit that is expected to hover above $1 trillion in 2012 for the fourth year in a row.

The report is likely to feature prominently in the 2012 presidential campaign, where Republicans Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are vying for the support of fiscal conservatives to win the party nomination and face Obama in the November general election.

CBO also cited the cost of granting physicians a long-term reprieve from a Medicare reimbursement mechanism that is scheduled to impose a 27 percent pay cut on doctors in March.

The report said keeping physician payments at current levels through 2022 would cost the federal government $316 billion, up from last year’s CBO estimate of $290 billion.

Lawmakers in Congress are trying to reach a deal on a one- or two-year “doc fix” under Medicare.

Foregoing reduced payment rates would cost the government $9 billion in 2012 and $19 billion 2013. The charge would rise sharply in later years to $47 billion in 2022 and $15 billion in additional debt service costs.

(Editing by Michele Gershberg and Eric Beech)

Middle Income Retirees don’t understand Medicare

press release

Feb. 7, 2012, 7:00 a.m. EST

Medicare Misconceptions Could Land Middle-Income Retirees in Financial Hardship, New Study Says

CHICAGO, Feb. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — An alarming number of our country’s middle-income retirees on Medicare lack understanding or have misconceptions about the program’s coverage and costs resulting in unexpected financial surprises, according to the latest findings released by the Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement(SM) (CSR).

The study, Retirement Healthcare for Middle-Income Americans, which focused on 400 pre-Medicare Boomers (age 47 to 64) and 400 older adults (age 65 to 75) with an annual household income of between $25,000 and $75,000, found that one in three Medicare enrollees still did not know how much the program covers for doctor’s visits (33 percent) or hospitalization (31 percent), which are the basic components of the program’s health benefits.

The CSR study also found nearly half (49 percent) do not understand their benefits for vision care and hearing care, both which are services typically not covered by Medicare.

Long-term care was found to be the least understood and the greatest perceived threat to financial security for middle-income Americans. Two out of three (66 percent) Medicare recipients did not know if the program covers long-term care or overestimate its long-term care coverage.

Medicare has long been labeled as an entitlement program but middle-income Americans say it is not the free ride many assume it is. Two-thirds (65 percent) of those on Medicare report paying the same or more for healthcare now that they are on Medicare, resulting in unexpected financial surprises.

The most common financial surprises for Medicare enrollees is the cost of monthly Part B premiums with nearly half (44 percent) who report paying more than they had expected.

The unexpected financial surprises coupled with the uneasy economy have forced 78 percent of middle-income Americans on Medicare to take at least one action to reduce their healthcare expenses, including switching to generic prescriptions (69 percent), holding off going to the doctor (22 percent), changing to a less expensive health plan (15 percent) or splitting pills to make their prescriptions last longer (12 percent).

“Financial fallout from healthcare related expenses can devastate savings and strip away the enjoyment of one’s retirement years,” said Chris Campbell, vice president of strategic marketing and business development for Bankers Life and Casualty Company, a national life and health insurer. “Review your Medicare plan options annually and look into new health and prescription drug plans that better meet your needs. Also, consider purchasing additional healthcare insurance to address services not covered by Medicare and out-of-pocket expenses.”

According to the CSR study, three out of four (77 percent) have purchased an insurance product or a Medicare Supplement insurance plan to help pay out of pocket expenses typically not covered by the Medicare program.

Methodology The Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement’s study Retirement Healthcare for Middle-Income Americans was conducted in September 2011 by the independent research firm The Blackstone Group. The complete report can be viewed at http://www.CenterForASecureRetirement.com .

About the Center for a Secure Retirement The Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement is the Company’s research and consumer education program. Its studies and consumer awareness campaigns provide insight and practical advice for how everyday Americans can achieve financial security during retirement.

Established in 1879 in Chicago, Bankers Life and Casualty Company focuses on the insurance needs of the retirement market. The nationwide company, a subsidiary of CNO Financial Group, Inc. CNO -1.22% , offers a broad portfolio of life and health insurance retirement products designed especially for Boomers and retirees.

SOURCE Bankers Life and Casualty Company

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