June 16, 2004

By Staff
Medicaid reforms deadly
In America, we provide medical care and prescriptions for incarcerated criminals. We occasionally imprison people who abuse animals. Yet, in Mississippi, thanks to Medicaid "reform," we have said "no help" and "no appeal" to 48,000 of the 65,000 elderly and disabled no longer eligible for prescription benefits.
This is what a 55-year-old brittle diabetic has learned from calling Medicaid in Jackson and contacting several other agencies. Medicaid declares she is in that group of 48,000 which do not qualify for the waivers, that the much-promoted Medicare card will provide her a mere 5 percent discount on some prescriptions, and that no appeal exists.
My friend's disability allotment is $700 monthly, out of which she pays rent and food; her monthly bill for life-sustaining prescription drugs is $1,400. Three state agencies have all told her no help is available. The "help" that elected officials espouse amounts to thin are for her and many others.
My friend worked for many years, thus contributing to the system enough to draw as much as $700 disability. SSI recipients, meaning those who have put less into the system, are not cut from Medicaid. Yet the governor, in his online "Summary of HB 1434", bemoans Mississippians' being required to "provide free health care to those who can work but choose not to."
Some legislators have claimed ignorance of the effects of HB 1434. The House voted against the bill after hearing from constituents, yet the Senate and the governor refuse to reconsider it.
Are we more concerned about the health of imprisoned criminals and animals than we are unwealthy citizens whose only crime is becoming old or sick? Medicaid reform may have condemned my friend to death.
Sue Shoffiett
Meridian
Humane Society still struggling
I would like to respond to a letter ("Who speaks for the animals?" The Meridian Star, May 30, 2004). The letter raised a number of questions concerning animal welfare in Lauderdale County and the Lauderdale County Humane Society.
The first question concerned funds and materials that were collected to build a shelter on Lover's Lane. In the summer of 2001, the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors had made many promises to give land and accommodations for a LCHS facility. At that time, I was very active in the LCHS and sought donations for the project, hoping the supervisors would follow through on their promises.
As politics often go, the promises fell through and to this day the LCHS is run out of the houses of a handful of volunteers. The funds earned in 2001 and since pay completely for the spaying/neutering, vaccinations, medications and food for all LCHS rescues. Currently, the LCHS has space available to about 25 dogs and 10 cats at a time and has found homes for around 500 pets since 2001.
The question raised, "Is there a county agency overseeing the Lauderdale County Humane Society?" simply shows a bit of confusion about how a non-profit organization works. LCHS is a non-profit, all volunteer organization that receives no government funds, therefore does not answer to any government agency.
As for never hearing about the LCHS, The Meridian Star has supported it from the start with articles and classified advertising on all the events and Bonita Lakes Mall routinely allows it to hold Adoption Days.
The LCHS is a group of concerned citizens trying to help with the pet overpopulation problem in our county, but obviously the powers that be don't want any help. I admit the main reason I am no longer active in the LCHS is due to the frustration of dealing with slow-moving, but ever-changing county policies and politicians. But I still support them and speak up for them when needed.
It has been one year and a half since we were promised space in the now expanded county animal control shelter. That has yet to happen and it is doubtful that it ever will.
The LCHS continues to struggle on fostering animals in private homes, planning events to boost adoptions and education, and raising funds to help abandoned and unwanted pets. They can't all be saved and even the most devoted animal lover knows this.
The answer to population control is through spay/neuter programs and education on the humane treatment of animals. Thank you for bringing those questions to the public's attention once again. We hope you'll help to educate the community further about the cause.
Cathy Long-Moore
Meridian

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