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Front Page » June 15, 2006 » Opinion » Rantings and Ravings
Published 3,022 days ago

Rantings and Ravings


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By TERRY WILLIS
Guest contributor

I tend to think I am a pretty financially conservative and responsible person. Even though my husband and I do not have a huge amount of income coming in, we live very comfortably.

We have our debts paid off, have money in savings and in long term investments. We weathered a family crisis recently and were able to handle it with only a small jolt to our financial system.

I have the luxury of pursuing things I like to do rather than what pays well. It is a bit different then many years ago when I was a struggling single parent, scraping to get by. When I had little to spend, it was difficult to invest my money in good products and services.

The result of that was that I usually ended up spending more money in the end than I would have in squeezing a bit more up front to up grade my purchases.

For example, I bought many cheap skillets over the years to cook with. They never held up. Food burned and stuck to the bottom. I had to scrape to get it out making them stick worse. The handles fell off-usually when I was scraping out the burned stuff. So I would throw them away and buy a bit better one and therefore, start the cycle all over again.

Over the years my $19.95 bargains added up to over $150. I could have bought one $60 skillet and still have been using it. Actually we are now using a really good skillet that we have owned for almost 20 years now.

But when I was poor it was hard to find the money to invest so I just kept throwing good money after bad.

It's easy to see how someone with little money could get trapped into that mentality, but what about our states decisions about what to invest our budget on and what not to.

The recent decision of our lawmakers not to fund a two million dollar investment into the Medicaid dental plan is absurd. I do not have a funded dental plan through my health insurance, but I do know that good dental care can save thousands of dollars in health care costs over time.

It is not a luxury. It is easy to resent that a poor person gets something for free that the rest of us pay for. But many people who qualify for Medicaid are people with disabilities, in poor health or are elderly. These people's lives depend on good care.

The $2 million would also leverage many more million from the federal government to pay for most of the cost of this program. Dental was restored once because the Medicaid program realized the increased costs that came with the loss of this program.

Studies have linked heart disease and diabetic complication to poor oral hygiene. Good teeth can boost self confidence and the ability to get a job. Parents who model good dental care raise children who also have healthy teeth. This reduces long tem costs to the system as well.

Do we wait till the handle comes off to decide to fix the system again?

At present it sounds like the private sector will step up and save the program for another year. I hope that we don't become so enamored in cutting programs to be fiscally conservative, that we lose sight of the cost savings in the investment of spending on people that need it.


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June 15, 2006
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