Once more in the heat of an election year, one that may determine if we survive as a nation, the right wingers and those full of hatred for everyone that do not think as they do, once again attempt to turn the poor into an issue. Once more screaming about massive waste and abuses by the people who are on either Medicaid, TANF, Food Stamps, or any of the other alphabet soup of programs designed to help those less fortunate.
So called 'think tank' publications exhort the wisdom of massive cutbacks to all entitlement programs, without also imparting just what will become of those hurt by the cuts they propose. Think tanks such as The American Enterprise Institute, who released what they called a comprehensive report on the state of the Medicaid system in January, 2007. The report was little more than both the Bush administration's and the private insurance industry's talking points. Calling for the saving of the Medicaid program by further privatizing it, in effect, adding a middleman (the insurance industry) between the government workers and the recipient.
People like to use the poor as their scapegoats by thrusting entitlement program issues into the faces of the American people whenever election time rolls around. What those who use this tactic don't want you to know is that Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary started much of this expenditure mess with their now infamous 'welfare reform' during Clinton's term. The insurance industry who helped elect him demanded their cut of the Medicaid pie, and it was bestowed on them in the form of 'managed care'. Furthered by Bush to the point that one can no longer recognize where the insurance industry ends and Medicaid begins, this fraud upon America has cost taxpayers untold billions.
Operating just like any HMO, Medicaid now forces recipients to choose a managed care program such as Kaiser or Magellan. The HMO's then decree which doctors one may see and what medications may be prescribed by the doctor. Rewarded by the government for cutting costs, the fraud occurs when the HMO denies procedures and medications to Medicaid recipients, and then receives the savings in the form of reward. So instead of the recipient getting the care they need, the HMO gets the cash. Going even further in their attempts to discourage the poor from using their Medicaid benefits, the HMO's in many states have instituted a fee to the services that Medicaid recipients get. Fees such as co-payments for each doctors visit, extra fees for each prescription, and even more co-payments for specialists and tests ordered by the doctors.
So, if a recipient is sick, to go to their doctor will cost $25.00. The doctor in turn wishes the person to see a specialist. Another $35.00. And prescribing 5 medications to alleviate the symptoms will cost between 10 and 20 more dollars. Say this person must see their doctor, the specialist and obtain these prescriptions for a period of one year in order to get back to health. How in the world does anyone expect the recipient to pay almost $100.00 per month for their Medicaid imposed costs, when their total monthly income, if on S.S.I. would be $663.00? Or the family on TANF, who in a generous state such as New Hampshire might receive the same amount for a family of four? What does one do if two children become ill?
Therein lies the fraud in the Medicaid program. Insurance companies getting paid to ensure the people don't use the benefits that they are entitled to, and the politicians who give taxpayer money to an industry as political payback.
For more information on the amounts of money spent by each state and the instances of fraud and their minuscule amounts, read the bi-annual Health and Human Services National Summary of State Managed Care Programs. There you'll find out the true fraud being committed in the form of payments to the insurance industry and the taking away of actual health benefits for the People in order to pay for it.
Next we come to the howls of outrage by those who would deny the poor programs such as Food Stamps. The claims of fraud, waste and abuse sound ever so convincing. But with just a little bit of research, one can find that the only fraud being committed on a massive scale here is by the liars who quote figures that don't exist, or make things up as they go along.
A government report from the Library of Congress entitled Re engineering Through Technology clearly shows and declares that with the advent of the EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards, instances of fraud were reduced a full 75%. In most states, the EBT card is used for all benefits, including cash, food stamp, and Medicaid. Used like a credit card, one swipes the card through the machine at the counter. In order to obtain an EBT card, one must go to the local H.H.S. office. Most states have very strict standards when it comes to identification, proof of residency, proof of citizenship, etc. The argument that massive amounts of illegal aliens are receiving benefits is a lie at best and a co-ordinated effort to deceive Americans at worst. Yes, in many cases, illegals may initially receive benefits due to claiming they have no I.D. But the fact is that the recipient is given a set amount of time, usually 30 days, to produce the required documents or they are cut off of whatever benefits they began receiving.
And do you truly believe that a family that is in the position of having to depend on the pittance the government gives them in order to survive is having the time of their lives at your expense? The next time you're sipping your $5.00 latte mocha that the poor wouldn't dream of buying, or filling up your $50.00 gas tank in the car that the poor can not drive, think about the sick child in the family among the ranks of America's poor who is receiving no care because the family can not afford to pay the co-payments instituted by the HMO's. Ask yourself who is committing the true fraud here, and what you're prepared to do to stop the real abuse of the entitlement program system, and not just sit and nod your head in agreement with the hucksters who blame it all on the poor. We do not need middlemen between the government and those the government programs are meant to serve, and we certainly don't need politicians who use taxpayer dollars to reward industries that donate to political campaigns. Oh, and maybe we could use that trillion dollars to help Americans instead of killing Iraqis.
Do your part and tell Congress to stop the cuts to the Medicaid and Food Stamp programs, because America's children have suffered enough for the oil baron wars.