How Walker’s Budget May Kill People

With the collective bargaining issue being the main concern of most media and the public something somehow made it under the radar.  Walker’s budget guts Badgercare (Wisconsin’s Medicaid program), Seniorcare (an RX program that had a $20mil surplus), Familycare (a program that helps pay for long term care costs for disabled and poor elderly), and ends the end-stage chronic renal program.

In my area of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, we’ve had hospitals close due to just being so overburdened with Medicaid patients that they were losing money horribly and the hospital systems felt it better to have those patients become absorbed into other hospitals. With hospitals further losing Medicaid dollars, which hardly cover the cost of services if at all, this will cause the hospital systems to do two things, raise prices on cash paying patients (they sign contracts for pricing with insurers) and cut staff, most likely nursing.  Nurses are the biggest of a hospital’s budget.

There is no mandate in the State, as in other states, that say there is a limit to how many hours or how many patients we have while we work.  It is totally to the discretion of management, who when pushed by their superiors will give you more and more.  Evidenced-based research has shown that high patient:nurse ratios increases medical error and patient death.  Hospital systems though will have no choice but to implement these changes in order to stay at even.

This may be why Republicans are for tort reform, by making these cuts they most assuredly ensure patient harm and death and want to protect the doctors and hospitals (not nurses though) from malpractice suits. (The previous sentence is speculation but I think a fair assessment)

Patient safety has been studied thoroughly as even retention rates (vs. recruitment rates) are inversely related in the effect they have on patient mortality (death).  Hospitals that retain nurses more than recruit them have higher rates of people staying alive after being admitted.  Also the limit according to the nursing community as to what is reasonable for patient load is between 4-6 patients, depending on who you ask.  At 6 patients, you develop neurogenic bladder, don’t take lunches or breaks, and stay late charting.  For some reason we’ve accepted this.

So although this may be an unintended consequence of his budget bill, and most assuredly cutting these low income Seniors off their very cost-effective program will decrease drug utilization causing need for more catastrophic care in the hospitals, cutting the end stage renal program (kidney failure) will do the same, I say will because you are on the path to death anyway it will just be faster and more painful so not totally Scott’s fault on that one but it will be quicker, and then the increased strain on the nurses as hospitals cut staff to make up for the shortfalls they will incur which will cause error and death due to no limit on the number of patients you can have at once.

So Scott Walker, I submit to you.  You may think you are saving the State money, then handing it out to your Corporate buddies, but you are just shifting the costs from the whole state to a few, that is not shared sacrifice.  You did not think this one through and the deaths that will result will be their blood on your hands too.

4 thoughts on “How Walker’s Budget May Kill People

  1. Wow. This needs to be heard VERY loud by Wisconsin. By everyone, really. Great job getting the word out, P. I hope you post this at Facebook and elsewhere as well.

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