The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. ~Thomas Jefferson
For those of you who either work with me, or who are subjected to my militant rants regarding the passing out of Medicaid in this state as if it were Halloween candy, bear with me. For the other two of you...read on.
I can only speak for the state of Washington, because that is where I see abuse firsthand, every day. Our Medicaid system is broken, seriously broken, yet our governor wants to expand the program and hand out free health care at an even faster rate.
Let me interrupt here and point out that I am not against helping those who need it. Welfare as a concept was designed for either those truly unable to work, or as a short-term solution; not a lifestyle. I believe that if children need medical attention, they should get it. I also believe that their parents should bear some of that responsibility for their care, in the way of co-pays. And if the elderly need assistance, I'm all for it. Truly, I'm not a heartless wretch.
However, here's what I see every day in the emergency room. The key word is emergency. Off the top of my head, without exaggeration, I would estimate that 60-70% of our patients in the ER are receiving Medicaid assistance. They come to the ER for coughs, colds, ear aches, slight fevers, sprains, etc. They come without having tried Tylenol and rest. And they come without co-pays, without any attempt at home remedies that take time, effort, or out of pocket expense. And they certainly don't want to go to the walk-in clinics. The number one reason given? They don't think they should have to wait. Seriously. This is the biggest frustration that I hear from staff. We have patients that we see...wait for it...3 or 4 times a week. For the flu, for back pain, for that persistant cough. This is in the ER.
So how to fix the problem? It seems simple. If you are unwilling to work, we are unwilling to spend tax dollars on you. Period. If you are down on your luck, and need temporary assistance, fine. Let's set a limit. But when you go to the ER, it will cost you $20. No more going in for free Tylenol. If you need that, go to Walgreens. It's $5. That's what I do.