Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Bush administration to cut funding for Indian clinics
As part of the massive spending cuts being rammed through Congress to make up for tax cuts for the wealthy and Bush's private war, the president has proposed lopping off $33 million in funding for off-reservation Indian clinics. Here in Montana, off-reservation clinics located in Great Falls, Helena, Missoula, Billings, and Butte, receive over $4 million. More than half of Montana's Native American population lives off reservation. Many of them use the off-reservation clinics exclusively.
“It would be a tremendous loss if we close,” said Thomas Champagne, director of the Great Falls Indian Family Clinic. “We couldn't be sure if these people would be willing to go seek those services elsewhere. I'd be worried about what would happen to them.”People who are reluctant to go to the doctor for regular checkups or at the early onset of medical symptoms -- people who wait until they're really sick before they seek medical attention end up costing the system more money in health care costs. That results in higher doctor's bills, higher insurance premiums, and more taxpayer money spent on health care costs. The kind of payments that affect the middle class, those of us struggling to pay our mortgages and health insurance costs as it is. And the cut singles out a low-income minority group that typically votes Democrat. Here, then, is an excellent example of the kind of cuts the Republican Party typically makes. It's short-sighted. It screws the poor. The middle class has to pay for it. Above all, it's partisan politics.