Bob's Words of Wisdom

Don’t Pay for Corporate Welfare by Expanding Medicaid

Monday, August 29th, I spent an hour at the special committee meeting on Medicaid Expansion and listened to Dr. Jim Brook speak about how he has run a family practice in Idaho Falls for thirteen years where many of his patients fall into the Medicaid Gap. Dr. Brook has run his family practice without accepting any insurance, Medicaid or Medicare payments and has never had a problem collecting on a bill, but also makes a nice living helping people who would otherwise be on Medicaid expansion. He explained how much simpler it is when you don’t have a middle man like an insurance company or a government agency to deal with. Without the middle man he can charge very reasonable rates for office visits. His average fee in 2015 was $58 which included his fee for medications and labs. When it comes to his patients medications, he can order at wholesale prices and he passes along the savings. By the same token a doctor who accepted Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid would have to charge over $100 per visit to pay his staff and the cost of paperwork plus unpaid billings.

Most of the members of the committee had looks of “How could this be possible in today’s world”, but you have to remember that this committee had a good many members who have been associated with implementing the State Healthcare exchange and pushing for Medicaid Expansion for several years now. I believe that those members who have an open mind on this matter were impressed and wanted to know more, but alas Dr. Brook only had a half hour to express his view point. He was quietly dismissed after his talk by Co-chair Senator Hagedon who was the senator who made every effort to push Medicaid Expansion through in the last legislative session.

Having read Dr. Brooks book, “The High Price of Socialized Medicine”, I was familiar with his solution to our Medicaid expansion problem. More of our legislators should read this book as it might open their eyes to a simple solution to what they believe is a complex problem. It was apparent after his talk that three or four of the members of the committee would be interested in hearing more of his solution, but the usual suspects had no interest in his practical approach if the government and big corporate money wasn’t involved.

It is truly a shame that we don’t have more of our legislators who are willing to think out of the box. Too many only want to complicate our lives by spending more of our taxpayer money and complicating an already egregious medical system rife with rules, regulations and mandates that cost us all in time, money and bad outcomes. As I always say, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem, and there is no way to fix stupid. We don’t need more socialized medicine in Idaho. Stealing from Peter to pay for Paul does not work, we found that out with Obamacare.

This corporate Government coalition has cost everyone in this country a great deal of pain and money. What we have done is to take a medical problem that is completely solvable with free markets and handed it over to a bureaucratic group of corporate profiteers and power grabbers in the name of helping the poor. Had we not allowed employers the right to deduct the premiums of their employees back in the 1940’s from their taxes in the first place, we would not have the same situation today. Had President Johnson in 1965 stuck to actually running the country instead of sticking the government’s nose in where it doesn’t belong, we would not have the huge and costly socialized medical industry currently eating this country alive day by day. When we get away from free markets, prices rise in both medical care and insurance costs because you limit choice and competition.

Why is it that our elected officials are all so ignorant they do not understand that by 2014, 54% of doctors would not accept Medicaid? How can you possibly think that a system that forces the healthy to pay for many of those who do not take care of themselves to work? If you really believe in this premise, then move to Canada and you will find out that everyone has to pay into their care system, but you must always wait till a doctor is available before you get care and in many cases time runs out for those on the waiting list. As many as 45,000 Canadians cross the U.S. border to obtain medical care in the United States every year because it is not available to them in their own country. Socialized medicine is a trap that too many of our foreign neighbors have fallen into, and in almost all cases they wind up with a two tier system. Those who will die waiting for care and those that can afford to pay and go elsewhere for their care, how is that a fair system? Free markets are the answer if we can just get government control and the corporate profiteers out of the way.

It’s also time we examined the reasons that the liberal media in Idaho has been pushing so hard for Medicaid Expansion. We have written many articles on this subject over the past few years and have listened to the arguments both pro and con on this issue. The more we hear the more we are skeptical as to the reasons this issue is being pressed so hard by the media and the Otter administration, specifically Richard Armstrong, the director of Idaho Health and Welfare. Think for one minute who is responsible for much of the advertising in the media. It is the Health Insurance companies, Doctors Groups, Hospitals, all of whom have a connection to the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the biggest lobbying group in Idaho whose members spend millions on advertising every year.

For the past three years IACI and its members have been pushing to get Idaho to accept Medicaid Expansion from the federal government because it will mean millions of dollars to its members and their businesses. Many of the employees of IACI members would fit nicely income wise into the Medicaid GAP. If we accept Medicaid Expansion, those corporations will be able to cancel their healthcare plans for many of their employees and push them onto Medicaid Expansion so the taxpayer will foot the bill instead of the companies. We are talking literally about thousands of employees that would be shifted from private cost to public subsidies with your tax money. This is no more than the state sticking their hand in your pocket, stealing your wallet and handing it to the corporations who pay for our legislator’s elections every two years.

We already have subsidized many of these companies when they opened factories in Idaho with taxpayer funded training for their employees and the cost of much of their necessary infrastructure they needed to build their plants. It’s time to make them pay their own way and let our politicians know we are not going to stand for any more government theft of our tax dollars.

Let us remind you that in 2005 Idaho’s entire state budget was $2.08 billion. In 2015 just last year, our legislators approved $492 million in state general fund dollars for Medicaid with an overall budget of $2.03 billion, just .05 billion less than the entire 2005 budget allocated just for Medicaid. In 2004 Medicaid served only 162,000 of Idaho’s citizens, and in 2015 it has escalated to 246,000, up 80,000 and they are talking about adding another 78,000 to the rolls. We know from the experiences of other state that the number of enrollees will not be 78,000, but more like 150 to 160 thousand when all is said and done, this would mean almost 23% of our citizens would be on Medicaid. If the federal government decides to change the rules like they usually do, the state will become libel for a much larger bill and that would mean a tax increase for everyone. Deborah Bachrach who spoke at the meeting said that if the government decreased its payments that the state would simply transition out of Medicaid. Good luck with that. How would you tell 80 to 160 thousand people that the medical care you have become used to getting is now going to stop? Once you open Pandora’s Box, you can’t close it that simply.

The taxpayers of Idaho have been shouldering a large burden in state taxes for some time with an income tax that starts at a little over $11,000. We have a grocery tax that hurts the lower and middle income citizens along with a new 25 cent per gallon gas tax and higher registration fees which our legislators passed without a thought of how it would affect the families of Idaho. It’s not like our economy has been booming for the past 8 years, and in fact Idahoans median income has dropped by $3,000 since 2008. We are still number 2 with the highest number of minimum wage jobs at 7.1% of those employed, and we currently have 21% of our population relying on some sort of government assistance each month. Remember that old saying “We’re from the Government, and we’re here to help you”. Believe me folks they’re not here to help you, they are here to fleece you of your hard earned money. We urge you to send an e-mail or call your legislator to let them know you are not interested in expanding Medicaid, and also ask them why Idaho is one of 13 states that still has a grocery tax.