Medical Assistance Program emergency

Merced's Medical Assistance Program, which provides medical care to among the county's poorest residents, needs $500,000 or it will have to cut 400 patients off its eligibility list. The issue was heard at the July 21, 2009 Merced County Board of Supervisors meeting and board consideration of this issue will continue at the August 18, 2009 meeting.
Badlands Journal editorial board has several suggestions for the supervisors that would avoid cutting 400 patients off the MAP program, sending them to the far more expensive emergency room.
1. If all five supervisors contributed their annual discretionary (pork) funds, of $100,000 per supervisor, to MAP, the problem would be solved. MAP is more important that restoring the historical Snelling Courthouse (the county has a brand-new courthouse), bailing out the East Merced Resource Conservation District to the tune of $35,000 for mis-, mal- and nonfeasance in the management of public grants, or the hapless attempts of former Supervisor Kathleen Crookham to put nearly $300,000 of her saved pork fund into restoring an old movie theatre owned by the City of Merced, to build monuments, a scoreboard for Dos Palos Youth Baseball, a new flagpole with landscape for Merced High School, the endless subsidizing of the county fair, Atwater Library fix ups, $40,000 for the High-Speed Rail "Citizens Committee," etc.
2. The Hun, our governor, axed the state subvention for the Williamson Act last week, leaving the counties to pick up the difference between the taxes that would be collected from farms and ranches if the land were assessed at its real estate value rather than the much lower rate based on farming and open space uses  under the Williamson Act. Merced County supervisors voted in 2000 to put most of the unincorporated land in the county into the Agricultural Preserve, making landowners eligible for Williamson Act contracts. The amount of the state subvention to Merced County is $1.2 million. If the supervisors cannot bring it upon themselves to cut their pork funds, they could suspend the Williamson Act, tax agricultural parcels at their higher amount and raise at least $500,000 for the medically indigent.
Or, if the County continues the subsidy, farmers, out of the goodness of their hearts, could donate back the money to keep MAP open. 
Alternatively, farmer Jean Okuye, whose photo appeared in this week's front-page Merced Sun-Star article about the anguish and anger Merced farmers were feeling at the lost of the state Williamson Act subvention, could donate the state funds she received for an agricultural easement, about $450,000, on her orchard in 2007. Another alternative might be to pass the hat around the larger farming community in Merced County for donations from other agricultural subsidies.  According to the Environmental Working Group Farm Subsidy Data Base for Merced County, farmers here received from the federal government more than $266 million from 1995 through 2006 in cotton, dairy, corn and rice subsidies and disaster payments.
3. Another approach could be to modify the pensions of former Merced County CEO Greg Wellman and present county CEO, Dee Tatum. Wellman is profitably employed with the City of Atwater, working earnestly to change the racist culture in City Hall. CEO Tatum already used his office to secure a cut-rate deal from a developer on a parcel of prime farmland near Planada, which should provide him a comfortable retirement, augmented by his wife’s salary and retirement, also from the County. A measy half-million could easily be found from this source.
Merced Sun-Star
The Donation III: Merced Theatre contribution denied yet again...SCOTT JASON
Open the Beilenson Public Hearing pursuant to Section 1442.5 of the California Health and Safety Code (Beilenson Act) to consider proposed health care service reduction/elimination as follows: 
The following services will no longer be covered by the Medical Assistance Program (MAP), which would affect 780 clients annually and save the program approximately $103,000 annually.  Individual services and impacts:
a. Optometry - Affect approximately 290 clients annually, will save approximately $24,000 annually.
b. Podiatry - Affect approximately 15 clients annually, will save approximately $4,000 annually.
c. Dental - Affect approximately 475 clients annually, will save approximately $75,000 annually.
d. Audiology and Speech Therapy - No MAP claims filed and no clients affected and $0 annually saved.
The Medical Assistance Program: change the income requirement from at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to at or below 100% of the FPL; affect approximately 400 clients annually, will save approximately $300,000 annually.
RECOMMENDATION:   To meet the current revenue shortfall of $500,000 and anticipated future reductions in Realignment Revenue, the Department recommends the following actions:
1. Approve the recommended Service cuts for a savings of approximately $103,000 annually.
2.  Limit MAP Eligibility to 100% or less of the FPL for a savings of approximately $300,000 annually.
3.  Make no changes to the co-pay policy.
4. Approve recommended cuts to retro-active ER Coverage for a savings of $50,000 annually.