One of the big phenomenons in our culture today is that everything is being politicized. About five years ago I wrote about how death has even become politicized. This is largely occurring to gain control for political advantages because, for many, this life, and more specifically, the here and now, is all that matters.
This June 5 event highlighted by the North Carolina Justice Center jumped out to me. It’s a memorial located in different locations across the state but at the same time (7:00 p.m.) to remember those who have “suffered or died because they were uninsured.” Specifically, the rally is an appeal for the growth of more government through Medicaid expansion.
My initial thought when I saw this, of course, was that this is an event to further sanctify and even memorialize the need for more government programs. Most of the links in the cities and towns listed at the site offer up a physical location for the vigil. It even mirrors, at least somewhat, the solemn occasions we hold around the state and nation for those who died in service to our country in war. But more government, even if well-intentioned, is an accurate assessment of the gatherings that will take place across North Carolina. I doubt there is any rational opposition to that observation.
The lack of affordable insurance is a problem for many. I don’t think that should ever be downplayed by conservatives. And that we too often fail to address that issue is, at least in part, is a reason why so many people are clamoring for universal coverage or socialized medicine. Notably, Brian Balfour addressed lowering the cost of coverage in a recent piece titled “Alternatives to Medicaid Expansion” at Civitas.
On the policy side, there is a desperate need to actually strengthen and not weaken entitlements through merely expanding them. That includes responsible entitlement reform that addresses our $22+ trillion federal debt. Entitlements programs are the biggest driver of our debt and deficits. It should become increasingly difficult for us to accept additions to federal spending and state dependency to the federal government without addressing the spending and debt crisis in Washington. The 90 percent federal match for Medicaid expansion is unsustainable so is it fair to compromise North Carolina’s budget obligations as well? I wish there was a constituency that demanded vigils for that crisis given that we are destroying future opportunities and security for millions of Americans through more and more debt.
Creating more dependency, particularly when we are talking about primarily expanding Medicaid to able-bodied working childless adults should give the responsible citizen pause. Healthcare is a complex public policy issue. However, reforming it or thinking you are fixing it through entitlement expansion should be a non-starter given our severe fiscal restraints mentioned above. Furthermore, improving cost and the overall strength of healthcare in this nation is going to take stepping away from dependency for the able-bodied so we can better care for the most vulnerable in our midst.