Thursday, May 05, 2011

What if QEP Studied Texas Budget Cuts?

Angelo State University's Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) will focus on "community-engaged active learning," a process that involves involves students, faculty, staff, administration and community members in learning

What if ASU students and faculty worked hand in hand with the community to assess the impact of state budget cuts?  The timing is good, given QEP's embarking on two years of research this fall.  That's when Texas budget cuts, anywhere from bone breaking to limb separating, will begin.

Students and faculty could work alongside nursing home, hospital, and clinic staff to see the impact of Medicaid budget cuts on citizens and providers.  They could track MHMR's efforts to meet growing demand with dwindling resources. They could watch and record as employers and the state walk away from health insurance commitments, while the federal government drags its knuckles until 2014.

Students could help the City of San Angelo file for federal ERRP reimbursement, thereby preventing another round of 34 to 58% health insurance premium increases for employee/retiree dependents.  They could ask City Council why there has never been a public presentation on ERRP, even though the city qualified for the program in August 2010.

ASU students could monitor the impact of the job decimator on the Concho Valley.  When people lose employment, they lose benefits like health insurance.  Job elimination isn't the only method of growing the area's uninsureds.  The City of San Angelo drove nearly 200 people from health insurance rolls via unbearable premium sharing.  How many more will lose coverage at ASU, SAISD, Shannon Medical Center, San Angelo Community Medical Center and beyond, either through job loss or making insurance unaffordable?  The number could easily be in the thousands, adding a double punch of misery to safety net providers.. 

Might students get a straight answer to questions, like:  Why wouldn't City Council use a portion of projected ERRP funding to meet commitments to early retirees?  Why won't the Texas legislature fundamentally address the state's health insurance crisis, now a decade old?  Instead, it will exacerbate it, growing our legions of uninsureds.  

Would knowledgeable students and faculty remain "responsible citizens" if they challenged elected or local leaders?  ASU leaders' response to state budget cuts indicate the only appropriate question for students is:  "Thank you, sir.  Can I have another one?"  It might help students' chances of gainful employment.

Use theory, study something...  Will it be for justice or "just us?"

No comments: