Saturday, July 1, 2006

Betrayed, the Raid on Medicaid

Medicaid is supposed to be helpful to those who don’t have access to health insurance at their job and (no surprise to the vengeful right) may not even have a job. Or may be old and broken-down, mentally incompetent and without so much as a 2nd home in Vail or a decent, late-model Audi.


Alzheimers_2There are people like that. Trust me, they’re out there.


The opening paragraph on the Medicaid site of the Department of Health and Human Services comes right out and says

“Good health is important to everyone. If you can't afford to pay for medical care right now, Medicaid can make it possible for you to get the care that you need so that you can get healthy – and stay healthy.”

Right now advances the sunny implication that your Alzheimers may reverse itself or Google might call with a great six-figure job in Mountain View, CA., complete with full-coverage health insurance. If that’s not the case, sorry ‘bout that, but you have become one of certain low-income individuals (and/or families) and the implications suddenly become cloudy, with the threat of severe thunderstorms and ruling-warnings that may dampen you to a serious degree, medically speaking.


Since this morning, it’s now about proof of citizenship. As we know by looking around us, every white man and woman is obviously a citizen of this fine country. But the Congress, which is mostly made up of white men and women, has suddenly become fearful of non-citizens getting their heads in the trough of Medicaid. Troughs are the special privilege of Congress and (occasionally) those who they deem high enough on the citizenship food-chain to get their heads in alongside Congress.


Health and Human Services goes on to explain,

“Medicaid is a state administered program and each state sets its own guidelines regarding eligibility and services.”

Which is almost true. Today, the 1st of July and three days before we celebrate our nation’s 230th birthday, a brand new Medicaid rule takes effect and each state hasn’t any power at all over that rule. The reason is that it’s federal. You bet. The Congress lifted its head from the trough for just long enough to shoo away anyone who couldn’t prove their citizenship.


Bushleavitt_2So today, some 50 million Americans get the chance to reaffirm their love of country by proving they belong here. Mike Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, has set for himself some ten goals in running the organization.


  • Care for the truly needy, foster self-reliance. Out the window as of today.

  • National standards, neighborhood solutions. Or, in place of that, a national standard that destroys the neighborhoods.

  • Collaboration, not polarization. Like using immigrants as scapegoat.

  • Solutions transcend political boundaries. Mike, you better put in a call to Rep. Charles Norwood.

  • Markets before mandates. This legislation is a mandate no one even asked for.

  • Protect privacy.

  • Science for facts, process for priorities. Nice processing, Mike.

  • Reward results, not programs. If cost-cutting is a result, congratulations.

  • Change a heart, change a nation. Presuming you had a heart, you’d be in Congress, pounding on desks.

  • Value life. By removing millions from their only path to health care.

So, with the exception of ‘protecting privacy,’ today’s enforcement pretty much destroys all claims to Mike Leavitt’s principled approach. Nine down, one left standing.


RepcharlesnorwoodA guy by the name of Charles Whitlow Norwood, Jr. is standing at the Congressional gate, just as George Wallace once stood in the schoolhouse door. Charlie is a Republican Representative from Georgia and I suspect his motives are not unlike Wallace's--to flog the radical right.


A prime sponsor of the bill, as well as being a white middle-aged man of American privilege, Charlie is furious at "the outright theft of Medicaid benefits by illegal aliens."


I don’t know how they interpret the Lord’s work at Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta, where Charlie claims membership. Perhaps it brings down Hellfire and Damnation upon those who are unable to prove their citizenship, but somehow I doubt it.


Membership is a privilege, Charlie. Citizenship is a right and that right extends to


  • Elderly, confused Americans who have no idea where the ‘required’ records may be

  • Those who were born without record—and there are millions of them, particularly among the poor, the black, the uncredentialed.

  • The homeless, mentally ill or merely confused, who have no paper-trail in their lives and possesses neither an original of such a ‘required’ document or a copy ‘certified’ by the original issuing agency, presuming one ever existed.

  • Those whose records have disappeared due to fire, flood, loss, neglect or mere lack of opportunity during their lives to ever produce such documents.

TrinityonthehillCharlie Norwood’s church in Augusta, makes an introductory statement on its web page, that United Methodists are

“...involved, committed, diverse, open. A people who try to be accepting, caring, hospitable and inclusive. Family & community oriented. A people who are concerned about those beyond their communities - around the world. A people who love music, church suppers and a sense of community. A people who like to tell the story of God's redeeming grace.”

Those are noble and endearing examples of a religion’s feeling for its fellows. Look it up, Charlie, read what it says. It will do you good to get back to the roots of your claimed faith.


On the one side of government we have Charlie, saving nickels and espousing Christian charity as he kicks the legs out from under the needy. On the other, the near comedy of FEMA and DHS, who’ve pissed away billions out of sheer incompetence. Stinginess is no equal to incompetence, at least in the area of government waste. By the way, on that note, can you imagine trying to get any needed records, if you happened to live in New Orleans or any of the damaged Gulf Coast towns or parishes?


We have a truly remarkable Congress, pandering in panic to their perceived constituency as the November mid-term elections loom. But rest easy, Georgia voters. By God, an illegal alien won’t get by Charlie Norwood, even if he has to punish the old, the infirm, the mentally confused, the children of the poor and those who are just plain down on their luck.


Luck is what you make of it, ‘eh Charlie?
________________________________________________


More about Conservative Politics at my opinion columns web site.