Sunday, June 27, 2004

Police state, anyone?

I forgot where I heard Texas is where the Repubs try things out first. I know the education thing started there; you know, they called it the Texas miracle. Well, here's something new which probably qualifies as another great idea, and it stinks to high heaven.
Thousands of Texas Medicaid patients are part of a new program to use electronically collected fingerprints to clear them for treatment when they arrive at a doctor's office or emergency room.

In a pilot program begun this spring, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, "finger images" have been scanned into microchips implanted in new plastic Medicaid ID cards.

A scanner at a doctor's sign-in desk views the patient's finger and quickly compares the information stored in the card.

The program was ordered by the Legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Perry last year to cut fraud and improve efficiency in the $19 billion-a-year Medicaid program.

So far it has recruited 900 doctors, clinics and hospitals in Dallas, Fort Worth and four other urban areas, The Dallas Morning News reported Friday. The test has drafted about 180,000 patients out of the 2.6 million Texas poor, disabled and elderly who are covered by Medicaid, the state-federal health program.

Advocates for the poor say that in a time of budget cuts, spending $10.1 million on microchip ID cards and finger scanners is a waste of money and almost amounts to harassment of poor people.
Does this smell like a police state to anyone else? And let's use that 10.1 million for something else. I hear education needs some extra bucks.