Sunday, April 16, 2006


A little Republican-sponsored “charity” for your Easter weekend…

From The New York Times:

“Medicaid Hurdle for Immigrants May Hurt Others”

“More than 50 million Medicaid recipients will soon have to produce birth certificates, passports or other documents to prove that they are United States citizens, and everyone who applies for coverage after June 30 will have to show similar documents under a new federal law.
The requirement is meant to stop the "theft of Medicaid benefits by illegal aliens," in the words of Representative Charlie Norwood, Republican of Georgia, a principal author of the provision, which was signed into law by President Bush on Feb. 8.”

State governments will be denied federal Medicaid money unless they verify citizenship by checking documents like passports and birth certificates for people who receive or apply for Medicaid.

It is expected this new requirement will “save” the Federal government $220 million in the first five years and $735 million in ten…

Or, put another way, between $44 million and $73 million dollars a year… Out of a couple of trillion, more or less… WOW! That’ll put a dent in the $300+ billion dollar annual deficits!!!

Presumably the assumption underlying the “savings” is that between 44 and 73 million bucks a year is being stolen by illegal aliens in the form of undeserved benefits. Of course, the “savings” accrue to the Federal State, not society… Hospitals are legally and morally required to provide emergency treatment. You don’t need an MBA to see that uninsured people will still get sick and when they finally arrive on the doorstep of your community hospital their needs will be immediate… And very expensive…

And the unintended consequences of the measure for American citizens are uncertain. Obtaining birth certificates may be quite difficult for many poorer, older citizens…

Do you have a birth certificate?

A lot of people apparently don’t… Representative Norwood’s colleague in the Georgia delegation, John Lewis, Democrat, said: “"Many older Americans do not have birth certificates because their parents did not have access to hospitals, and so they were born at home. In the last century, all over the South, because of segregation and racial discrimination, many hospitals would not take minorities."”

Seconding the idea is the Arizona governor's health policy adviser, Anne M. Winter: “[the federal requirement] would "reduce or delay enrollment for eligible individuals, mostly U.S. citizens." In many cases, Ms. Winter said, "Native Americans — the first Americans — do not have the documents" required to show citizenship. In addition, she said, older Medicaid recipients with Alzheimer's disease or other mental impairments may not understand the requirement and may be unable to retrieve the documents they need.”

New Jersey’s Medicaid director, Ann Clemency Kohler, concurs: “"There are lots of reasons why people born here may not have copies of their birth certificates. And many people in their 80's and 90's just don't have a driver's license or a passport because they're not driving or traveling overseas."”

On the other hand, Ann Clemency Kohler’s Georgia colleague, Dr. Rhonda M. Medows, commissioner of the state's Department of Community Health, reports Georgia’s enforcement of a similar law, which began in January, has not caused serious problems…

Our Governor, Chris Gregoire, pretty much sums up the case against: “"This provision is misguided and will serve as a barrier to health care for otherwise eligible United States citizens"”…

The case for can be summed up simply: Fraud is illegal. Benefits paid to illegal aliens are fraudulently obtained. The government has an obligation to enforce the law. Furthermore, this measure may help to discourage illegal immigration…

All fine points, I think… Fine issues of eligibility and practicality, “liberally” sprinkled with the plight of the disadvantaged; “conservatively” defended as necessary for an orderly, legal, secure society…

$44 million to $73 million dollars a year… Or, put another way, an average of 20¢ a year for every American citizen…

Damn you, Representative Norwood, you cheap bastard – and damn all those who voted with you. What is the human cost of this symbolic tantrum you have thrown?

People who raise practical issues are almost certainly correct – there will be people who are not only entitled to benefits but even currently receiving them who will be threatened with losing the life-saving medical care that is their right. Some may even actually lose benefits. Thousands? Millions? of our most vulnerable citizens will be seriously inconvenienced if not outright terrified by the possibility of losing their benefits.

But let’s assume that doesn’t happen. Let’s assume every damn one of the 35,000 people The Congressional Budget Office expects will lose coverage by 2015 are ineligible, fraud perpetrating freeloaders who deserve to be caught.

Is it moral to turn America’s broad back on sick people we have the power to help? Is it moral to force this dilemma onto State and local agencies and community hospitals?

Is it prosecution of the law, or persecution of the person, when you turn away someone sick, desperate, and destitute enough to commit fraud to obtain medical care?

Is persecution ever moral?

Keep my 20¢ a year, Representative Cheap Bastard… I don’t want it. I don’t want your blood money this Easter.  

And keep the mantle once again earned for your party – and sadly for all America, this time - by the actions of your kind: Mean Spirited.

But please, stay out of church… The sight of seeing garbage like you praying will make us all sick…

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