Block Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act
There are moments in life that define not only our own character, but, also, the future of our children. Failure to act during those critical moments can cause a lifetime of regret and remorse. I fear that if I don’t speak up now that I will regret it for the rest of my life.
While I have always been interested in and followed politics since the second grade, I have, for all intents and purposes, sat quietly on the sidelines, assuming that "being a good person" was enough to make a difference. Sadly, the events of the past few years have proved me wrong. Our Constitution and our freedoms are getting shredded to bits because I and so many other good people didn’t raise our voices. Perhaps it is too late, but at least I want my name to be on public record that I tried to oppose the health care expansion.
I work in medicine and have a unique perspective about healthcare reform, based on my own experiences, that has not been shared in the public dialogue or in the popular media. As I have discussed it privately, many have encouraged me to share it publicly. If you will bear with me, I would like to share that perspective with you and your colleagues.
In 1999, I returned to Utah to further my education, with the intent to resume my naval career in Europe. As I worked with clients, I could see the need for a low-cost clinic to help people without medical insurance. Had I stayed with the Navy, I would be eligible for retirement next year. Instead, my wife and I chose to embark on an uncharted path to help the medically uninsured without the help of grants or government funds. Over the course of 10 very challenging and busy years, I have learned a few valuable lessons.
Mandating health insurance will only make things worse
1. Insured people spend, on average, two times as much on medical care as the uninsured. Also, insured people are more likely to declare medical bankruptcy. And Medicaid recipients, in particular, are more likely to sue their medical providers. Increased costs of care, more people that can’t afford the costs associated with "a million dollar" insurance "credit card" will be using one and increased litigation and malpractice insurance costs will result.
2. In my personal experience as a clinic owner, the people with health insurance are the most financially stressed. They work to have health insurance, but can’t afford the co-pays, coinsurance or deductibles. I lost more than $100,000 over a 2 year period to insured patients who can’t/don’t/won’t pay their bills, even though these patients accounted for less than 25% of my business. I have lost less than $10,000 in 10 years on the uninsured. I can only imagine what bigger or busier clinics must lose each year. There is potential that the expansion will greatly increase these losses. This is most likely to affect small clinics or independent practitioners the most, forcing them out of business or into the employ of large corporations. All relationships will become 3rd party, which is the poorest model for health care. A single payer system will shortly follow.
At a minimum, providers will have to spend less time with each patient and see more patients for less revenue under the Medicaid expansion. There is a point where it doesn’t become worth it anymore to practice medicine because of the effects it has on quality of life, as well as the pocketbook. I am already starting to see a brain drain as medical providers leave medicine prior to the start of the proposed expansion.
3. I went to Boston a few years after the Romney plan went into effect in Massachusetts. I spoke with taxi drivers, subway workers, janitors, etc., who had been uninsured. They all told me the same thing. They had to buy low-cost health plans that most medical providers didn’t want to accept, so the people were still paying out-of-pocket for their medical care. The difference was that they had less take-home money and life was harder for them than it had been prior to the Romney plan. The Massachusetts Medical Society did a study about two years ago showing the average wait time for a new patient to get into a primary care provider was 37 days, that 50% of providers no longer accepted Medicaid and wait times to see specialists had substantially increased.
4. Adding more people to Medicaid will result in increased competition between Medicaid and Medicare patients. I suspect that the Medicare patients will lose in the end, which is bad, unless the goal is to shorten longevity. My parents, both of whom are now on Medicare, have already experienced some of these effects.
5. The middle class is going to bear the major costs of the healthcare expansion, which will devastate the middle class through higher taxes, higher premiums and higher out of pocket expenses. It truly is a triple-tax on the middle class and will further push society towards a "classless" society run by elites.
There will always be those who believe redistribution of wealth via healthcare programs is justified
What are some of the dangers of this type of thinking?
1. Moral bankruptcy. I no longer need to take care of my neighbor because the State is taking care of my neighbor. I don’t need to be charitable because the government provides charity. We are already seeing the effects of the embodiment of these thoughts in our society and our communities. Do we want to accelerate those changes?
2. The role of religion in public life will be diminished, dismissed or replaced by the values and morals (or the lack thereof) of the State, setting aside the wisdom of generations. We already are seeing the replacement of religion as the moral compass of society, leaving society, in general, directionless. Is that what we really want?
3. Dependence on the State will be increased. Anyone who has studied even the smallest amount of history will know that every society that became too dependent on the State was destroyed from within. As such, are we sowing the seeds of our own destruction?
4. If I can’t forcibly take money from my neighbors, even for a "good cause", then there is no power for the government to do the same. The government gets its power from the people and has no power to do what the people cannot do. Once we allow the government to redistribute wealth, we lose our freedom.
We have a duty to stand up for freedom by opposing bad laws and groups that support bad laws
1. There are groups within Utah and nationally that are actively promoting socialism under the guise of healthcare reform. This truly is the key issue of the healthcare debate and healthcare expansion: Do we accept socialism or do we return to our roots as a democratic republic based on the Constitution? There is no middle ground. Our decisions either support the Constitution or they replace it with socialism. These groups use bullet points, talking points, focus groups, "public opinion" surveys, etc., to manipulate the minds of an uninformed electorate into accepting a socialist agenda in the name of doing good. I have been to their meetings. The crux of their belief system is that the Federal government should set all the rules because "we can’t trust the people of . . . (small town USA, county USA, or state USA) . . . to make the right choices for their neighbors", which is a serious misconception or a blatant lie.
2. At the Federal level there is an increasing pattern of situational law-keeping and law-breaking or selective enforcement of law in Congress, the Justice Department, the Federal courts, and the Executive branch. A mind-set has been carefully cultivated over many years that we have to do whatever the Federal government says, whether or not it is right. Thus, if you or your group can get the Federal government to sign off on your agenda, you can literally force your agenda on everyone in the entire United States, which is wrong and is contrary to Constitutional principles. The beauty of our Constitution (and the wisdom of our forefathers) is that we have the right and the moral obligation to stand up against bad laws. If our legislature and governor do not stand up against bad Federal laws, then they are giving their consent to those laws. If Utah doesn’t stand up against the corruption of the Federal government, then who will?
3. I stand looking back at 10 years of great personal sacrifice and many tears. My little medical clinic has saved millions of dollars for our clients and the community at large. It has been my labor of love for my fellowmen and for my God. My family and I have literally sacrificed ourselves, our time, our talents and our personal resources to make a difference. Because I work, largely, with the uninsured (and am one of them), I know their joys, their pains and their sorrows; yet I still will not support or advocate the healthcare expansion.
Unless I adapt to the many healthcare changes in the expansion, I will be forced to shutter my clinic by the end of this year and will become another economic casualty of healthcare reform. As a father and husband, what should I tell my children and my wife? What will the many other small businessmen and businesswomen tell their families when the burden of this healthcare expansion closes their doors?
There are a multitude of dangers in this redistribution of wealth, particularly for the middle class, that haven’t been considered. The expansion of government provided and mandated healthcare goes strongly against individual freedoms, our Constitution and our democratic republic form of government.
I can only ask where you and your colleagues will stand in the annals of history. Will you stand for true and correct principles? Will you protect our God-given rights? Will you defend our religious freedoms and the future of our children?
There are better and cheaper solutions, which I am eminently qualified to discuss with you — if "health insurance" is the only goal; however, healthcare expansion will only worsen the physical and financial state of those who are in need of care, whether they are sick or healthy.
I pray that you and your colleagues will have the courage to stand up against the Federal government and will block Medicaid expansion and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
6671 S. Redwood Rd.