There are many ridiculous premises underlying the absurd claims contained in this N&O article on Medicaid and Medicare. For the sake of brevity, I’ll address just a few of them.
Medicaid, for its part, has meant that the poor are not left to suffer and die – yes, die – because they couldn’t afford care for ongoing, treatable illnesses.
The premise here, of course, is that if not for this “godsend” of a government program, poor people would be left to literally die because members of society would refuse to voluntarily help. This overlooks the rich tradition of mutual aid societies seen in the nation before politicians decided to crowd out private charity in an attempt to amass more power. One needs to ask the N&O editors: would you let a poor relative or friend die because you didn’t feel like helping them pay their medical bills (especially if you had considerably more disposable income because it was not confiscated by the State for such programs)? For the premise of their statements to hold true, the only answer could be yes.
Moreover, there is the premise that Medicaid coverage equates to access to medical care. That’s not the case. In an attempt to “control costs” the government has made a habit of trimming provider reimbursements. But at the same time they expand eligibility. The result is fewer hospitals and doctors willing to treat patients, with more people enrolled in the program. In this 2008 article,I showed that here in NC the amount of Medicaid providers dropped dramatically while the number of Medicaid enrollees rose sharply. This means that the poor in the Medicaid program are condemned to long searches for providers with a dwindling access to care.
This last point is even acknowledged, in this case regarding the same problem in Medicare, by the N&O editors, when they admit: “Even now, many doctors don’t want to treat Medicare patients because their government reimbursements are not as high as they would like.” Right after making the point that this program, like Medicaid, suffers from too many patients chasing too few doctors, they ask how providing an alternative for patients would alleviate this problem. Does this even need to be answered?
Obviously, reducing the number of patients in the Medicare system would help alleviate the problem of too many patients chasing too few doctors.
But Medicare and Medicaid are examples of the literally life-saving things that good government can do. Changing them, or eliminating them and calling it change, to satisfy a partisan agenda is justifiably frightening to the people of this country
The premise here is that these are incredibly successful programs that should continue. What is truly frightening is how newspaper editors have missed the news that Medicare is completely bankrupt and Medicaid has been imposing a crushing financial burden on the federal and state governments alike. They also overlook the poor quality of care that leads the majority of uninsured to say they would prefer enrollment into a private health insurance plan rather than Medicaid, and the fact that the doctor and provider shortage in these programs is only getting worse.
Only those that blindly worship at the alter of the ruling State could consider these programs a “godsend.”