Cities face the possibility of gutting emergency and quality-of-life services to pay for the rising cost of healthcare, a Families USA survey of 13 cities found. As spending on healthcare and related services increases, cities are forced to consider cuts in police and fire departments, schools, parks and basic infrastructure, according to the survey from the national consumer group.
America is experiencing a significant crisis in the healthcare system, Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said during a teleconference to release the findings. Insurance premiums are rising higher than wages, and people are joining the ranks of uninsured and underinsured. Its clear that cities are profoundly affected by the crisis.
Eleven of the 13 cities reported that demand for health services has increased over the past year. The majority cited crowding in hospitals and hospital emergency departments, and an increased demand for mental-health, substance-abuse and family-support services. Cities are also seeking increases in eligibility levels for Medicaid and the State Childrens Health Insurance Program.
The participating cities were Albuquerque; Boston; Charleston, S.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Houston; Minneapolis; Newark, N.J.; Oakland, Calif.; Providence, R.I.; San Francisco; Seattle; Tucson, Ariz.; and Washington. -- by Jennifer Lubell