Governors, you can say no to the Feds!

Editorial: The 50 governors of the United States are beginning to demonstrate some backbone. They now must remind the federal government that with ObamaCare it has overstepped its bounds.  

Andrew Cuomo, Democrat governor of New York, divulged the fact that 1 in 4 New York residents is on Medicaid.  Medicaid is the social safety net set up in 1965 with the elusive dream of making everyone equal.  President Lyndon Johnson actually stated that this program would help eliminate poverty within seven years.  Instead, it has served to spread the pain of poverty far beyond what anyone could have imagined. 

Instead of encouraging the drive and ingenuity of the American spirit, it tells one-in-four New York residents that he cannot care for himself or his family and is a victim of others.  

Government has turned its people into pawns of the state, easily manipulated by those seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of the prosperity and independence of those it has purported to "help."  And at a cost of $50 billion per year in New York alone, the productive private sector workers who must fund such excess, are forced to cut back on things that would enrich their own lives. How many homes cannot be improved because there is simply no money left to do it after taxes? How many idle contractors thus have nothing to do and finally wind up on welfare themselves?  The downward spiral is cruel. The people are burdened by a government that has gotten too big.

Cuomo has proposed Medicaid reforms, battling his own legislature to reduce the generous benefits offered by the system.  And now he is looking to his own President to stop the inevitable growth of this mammoth system that is bankrupting everyone.  He is horrified by the proposed expansion of Medicaid that is a major feature of ObamaCare.

Governor Cuomo may be on to something.  The Medicaid system has morphed into something that was never intended– a highly bureaucratic system that pays and gives generous benefits to many people that fill in forms and shuffle papers.  But when it comes to delivering health care to the poor, Medicaid only meddles, restricts, coerces, and grossly underpays those who actually see and touch the patients.  As in England, it is a national system that grows in bureaucracy while delivering less and less care.

So what is the solution? A proposal is circulating the State of New Jersey to phase out the Medicaid for acute care services, saving $2 billion.   

Since women and children in poverty need care, not "insurance,” we ought to encourage the private sector set up a network of free charity clinics.  

Physicians would be asked to donate 4 hours per week, submitting no claim forms to the state for reimbursement.  As their only reward, we would ask that the state provide the same medical malpractice coverage as it provides to attendings, residents and students of the state medical schools, to the entire practice of those physicians who volunteer.

It would cost the taxpayers nothing unless a lawsuit were brought, and these would be reduced.  Lawyers are less likely to sue the state than a private physician.  

Physicians would benefit from the lowered office overhead in their private practices and the freedom to work without having to defensively order so many extra tests.  

Poor patients would benefit by having a place, right in their community, to go when they find themselves ill with no money to pay for care.  Baby boomers would step up to staff the volunteer clinics, realizing that they would be improving the prosperity of their children and grandchildren.

The huge state Medicaid bureaucracy would melt away, freeing those workers to find private sector jobs fueled by the remarkable reduction in taxes.  Since NJ spends $5 billion of its $30 billion budget on non-elderly Medicaid, it is not hard to envision the prosperity that would ensue if such an expense were greatly reduced.   Though the federal government pays half, this is money that has lured us into the sense that we are really being helped. The strings attached to that "help" are strangling us.

The Governors need to stand up and just say "no" to the federal government.  Tell the feds to keep those Medicaid dollars and put its own house in order.  Let each state develop a common sense way to care for its poor and let there be 50 crucibles of innovation, ready to be emulated by others.  May the best state win!