“Last year (2015), the Science and Security Board moved the Doomsday Clock forward to three minutes to midnight, noting: ‘The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.’ That probability has not been reduced. The Clock ticks. Global danger looms. Wise leaders should act—immediately.”

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2016 Doomsday Clock update

Here in Alabama, it is one minute to healthcare catastrophe. The legislature passed, the governor vetoed and got caught in a sex scandal, the legislature overrode and made law a bill which reduces Medicaid to a level not seen in any of the other 49 states. The program exists as a federal-state partnership and Alabama’s partner has every right to back out if we don’t hold up our end of the bargain.

So what, you say, I have Blue Cross.

As fellow Alabama physician Pippa Abston documents, everything is connected. Our doomsday clock has been inching closer and closer to midnight ver since 2003 when Governor Riley failed to pass a funding package to deal with the problem. In the interim we have cut mental health services to the bone, have reduced services that maintain the elderly in their home, have reduced payments such that eight rural hospitals have closed and another 2 dozen are on the critical list. The next tick of the clock spells disaster. Woman’s and Children’s Hospital in Mobile, 71% Medicaid. Children’s of Birmingham, 57%. Midnight is only a minute away.

In the cold war era we actually planned to survive the nuclear holocaust. Fallout shelters stocked with food, instructions on how to “duck and cover” and other propaganda gave us a sense of bravado in the face of certain annihilation. We were fortunate that the balloon never went up because our survival was never guaranteed.  In fact, policy makers were well aware of the futility of their efforts.

Today and tomorrow are the day when we decide whether to let clock click to zero for health care in Alabama. Don’t believe in the false security of private insurance. Our system is built on Medicaid. Call your state senator and tell him or her you support using BP money for Alabama Medicaid.

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